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Occupational Therapy & Sensory Integration

at Cogwheel Clinic

As a natural part of typical development, children process, interpret, and respond to sensory information. When occupational therapy practitioners address the sensory needs of individuals, they consider the registration, modulation, organization and interpretation of information gained through the senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, and perception of movement and position. Occupational therapy practitioners recognize that well-regulated sensory systems can contribute to important developmental outcomes in social-emotional, physical, communication, self-care, cognitive, and adaptive skill development. Five to fifteen percent of children in the general population demonstrate difficulties with sensory modulation (SMD) (Reynolds, et al, 2008).

For many of these children, occupational therapy can help. There is a growing body of scientific evidence to support the importance of the sensory systems in human behavior and occupational performance (Baranek et al, 2002; White et al, 2007). Research has also provided indirect support for the use of a sensory integrative approach to intervention. (Baranek, 2002; Miller & Schoen, 2007).

What Can an Occupational Therapist Do? Occupational therapists can assess an individual’s response to sensory information from the body and the environment using standardized and non-standardized tests, clinical observation, and caregiver or teacher interviews. Emphasis often is placed on the tactile (touch), proprioceptive (body awareness, body position in space) and vestibular (perception of movement) systems.

Therapists also assess praxis, the ability to come up with an idea involving action, and to anticipate, time, plan, sequence, and execute unfamiliar motor actions. This information, along with an analysis of the sensory, motor, and cognitive demands of activities, the social and physical characteristics of the environment, and the effectiveness of the individual’s performance skills and patterns in those activities, forms the basis of the occupational therapy intervention plan.

Sensory integration and praxis dysfunction and sensory processing disorders vary in type and severity. When a deficit is found in sensory integration, praxis, or sensory processing, occupational therapy practitioners can provide intervention designed to address these concerns

Occupational therapy intervention to address sensory processing concerns can be provided throughout the lifespan. Early intervention focuses on infants and toddlers, birth 3 years of age, with disabilities or at-risk for developmental problems and their families. Occupational therapists use their unique expertise to identify sensory related factors and provide interventions to facilitate effective self-regul nal therapy practitioners also make modifications to the classroom environment in order to assist children in participating and progressing at school, playing, making friends, and focusing in order to learn. Examples might be managing sensory information during school routines like riding the school bus, tolerating smells and noise in the cafeteria, and playing on the playground with others. Occupational therapy strategies may help reduce stress and inappropriate or disorganized behavior caused by poor sensory registration, sensory defensiveness, sensory overload, and poor praxis. Occupational therapy practitioners who provide occupational therapy services using sensory processing approaches work with children to remediate the underlying sensory integration and praxis factors effecting a student’s education and participation at school.

Please let us know if you have any questions of want to view our Sensory-Motor Gym.

For more information, please visit the articles source, the American Occupational Therapy Association.