We all know what the five senses are – taste, touch, smell, sight, hearing. These senses give us information about our body and the environment around us. Then it’s the brain’s job to organize all of our sensations so we can move, learn and behave in a productive manner. But children with sensory integrative dysfunction experience problems with their senses, including body coordination and movement against gravity. This is a common disorder for children with neurological learning disabilities like autism spectrum disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and sensory modulation dysfunction.
Pioneered by Dr. A. Jean Ayres, sensory integration therapy includes a framework for assessing and treating people with this disorder. Here at A Different Kind of Perfect, we focus on five main areas...
When a child’s brain doesn’t connect the dots and can’t properly organize and use the information provided by their senses, it can be confusing and overwhelming. This often leads to a wide variety of defensive or compensatory behaviors, which can lead to meltdowns and tantrums, as well as behaviors like picky eating, hitting and hugging too tightly or not wanting to touch at all. Sensory processing is evaluated by using tests and observation of the child’s sensory defensiveness and cravings, including interviews with the family.
Praxis is the neurological process by which cognition directs motor action. In simple terms, it involves planning what to do and how to do it. For most of us, this happens automatically but in actuality, it’s really a complex, multi-step process. Some of the warning signs if a child is having difficulties with praxis include slow to achieve developmental milestones, avoids task requiring good manual dexterity (like puzzles, writing & cutting), habitual clumsiness, messy eaters, lack of or limited imaginative play, problems with self help skills (like using silverware or dressing), and difficulty forming relationships.
TECHNIQUE DEEP PRESSURE TOUCH
Our therapists focus on deep touch and a form of tactile sensory input which is often provided by firm holding, firm stroking, cuddling, hugging, and squeezing. Deep touch pressure acts as a calming or focusing agent to increase activity in the parasympathetic division, and lower activity in the sympathetic division of the Autonomic Nervous System. This opposite movement of activity in the two divisions together work to amongst other things, increase endorphin levels (happy hormones) and decrease heart rate and blood pressure (indicators of anxiety and stress). Deep touch pressure also causes the release of both serotonin and dopamine in the brain. These are “happy” neurotransmitters and produce a feeling of calm within our nervous system.
DIFFICULTY WITH TRANSITIONS
For children, sometimes it’s difficult to make transitions between activities, places and objects of attention. Being asked to stop one thing and start another is a very common trigger for problem behavior, especially for kids who have emotional or developmental delays. Difficulty with transitions can manifest in several ways depending on the child and the environment. It can take the form of resistance, avoidance, distraction, negotiation or a full-blown meltdown. These transition reactions are the result of children being overwhelmed by their emotions. And some are what they’ve learned works to successfully delay or avoid the transition. Our therapists will determine the transition triggers in your child and come up with a modified plan for the parents, caregivers and the school setting.
POOR BODY AWARENESS
Poor Body awareness is the internal understanding of where the body is in its space. In other words a child that may not understand how to move their body in the same way because they have a harder time understanding where their body parts are and how much to move them or they may appear clumsy when in fact they are struggling with their spatial orientation. Again, our therapists are diligent in determining the challenging areas your child may be experiencing and we will collaboratively come up with a therapy plan that will fit your child’s needs for the best results.