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Sensory integration is the process by which we receive information through our five senses; touch, smell, hear, see and taste and organize this information to utilize and participate in our everyday lives. Children that display efficient sensory integration have appropriate responses to the environment around them and are able to control their physical activity, emotional and cognitive responses. Children are able to perform and achieve their academic potentials as well understand their body’s movements in relation to their surroundings which in turn enables them to acquire gross motor skills allowing for a child to successfully develop their social skills. However, not all children will acquire efficient sensory integration and at Hand in Hand, pediatric occupational therapists make it a priority in helping families with children who have sensory processing disorders.
Therapeutic Help for Sensory Integration difficulties at Hand in Hand Occupational Therapy
Pediatric occupational therapists are able to identify children who have difficulties with sensory processing since they display; poor attention, inappropriate behaviours, being lethargic and lacking speed during an activity or have difficulties in retaining and learning skills and are uncomfortable within large groups or crowds of people. In order for efficient sensory integration to occur, visual senses (see), auditory senses (hear), gustatory senses (taste), olfactory senses (smell), tactile senses (touch), proprioceptive senses (body awareness) and vestibular senses (movement and balance) are essential for processing information.
At Hand in Hand pediatric occupational therapists provide a sensory-rich environment for the child where the child is requested to engage in fun activities that are structured to train and challenge the skills the child lacks. Pediatric occupational therapists believe that during a sensory integration training session the parents of the child must be involved. Parents are required to be involved so that they may gain a better understanding about their child’s sensory challenges and learn about the methods for engaging with their children in a therapeutic manner that will benefit them. In order to improve sensory integration skills, children are taught about the recognition of the triggers that spark the inappropriate sensory reactions as well as learning to how manage them.
Some of the sensory integrations activities at Hand in Hand include;
- Play-doh, sand and water play- where therapists have children touch a variety of textures and play with them to develop normal tactile processing
Heavy work activities including; jumping bouncing and using weights – this helps the child’s body receive appropriate input in their muscles and joints