Traditional occupational therapy offered in the school system will typically only help your child improve their fine motor development.
Sensory integration based on occupational therapy will address the child with autism spectrum disorder and the child with other developmental disabilities, such as ADD/ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder.
If your child has just been diagnosed, this is probably one of the first choices of therapies you want to begin immediately in early intervention – in fact the earlier the better.
Children receive information through their senses such as touch, taste, vision, smell and sound which helps them gain skills, self-confidence, dominate their body and environment and achieve developmental milestones.
When a child shows delays in normal development, gross and fine motor skills, speech and language, social and emotional maturity, behavior and learning, then challenges with sensory integration may occur.
How Can Sensory Integration Occupational Therapy Help My Child?
Your child will have an individual evaluation assessment and an individualized treatment plan designed to meet his or her needs.
Some children exhibit sensory defensiveness behaviors and others sensory seeking behaviors; some even have both.
Therapy consists of specific hands-on interactive play activities that present challenges such as engaging the child to interact with their environments, motivating them to respond to stimuli and getting them to participate in activities that will help them respond appropriately to their senses.
Even though it appears as though your child is just playing, the process is very complex, interactive and sophisticated.
The occupational therapist (OT) will be challenging your child by constantly adapting activities to meet your child’s specific sensory needs.
Some sensory integration activities are as follows:
- Auditory: Whistles, musical instruments, CDs, environmental sounds
- Tactile: Stretch fabrics including lycra & spandex, finger paints, play dough, ball pits
- Taste and smell: Salty, sweet, sour, crunchy foods; aromatherapy oils, NOXO Autism Alleviation balm from Olfactory Biosciences Corp. (www.noxoinfo.com/sensory)
- Visual: Slant boards
- Vestibular: Hammocks, swings, slings, scooters, teeter-totters, gliders, skates, bikes, rockers
- Proprioceptive: Weighted vests, blankets or belts, ankle and wrist weights, seat cushions, bean bag chairs
Over time, this process of sensory integration activities can make improvements in your child’s:
- Postural control
- Praxis (motor planning)
- Eye/hand coordination
- Fine motor skill development
- Social development
- Emotional development
- Less odd and quirky behaviors
- Improved cognition
Shortcomings of Sensory Integration Occupational Therapy
Although sensory integration occupational therapy is terrific in helping your child to make the above-noted improvements, it does not address root causes of why your child has problems with sensory integration in the first place.
Most traditionally trained sensory integration OTs have not been trained in primitive reflex integration, which we discuss here.
Primitive reflex integration and Rhythmic Movement Therapy address the deeper dysfunction of your child’s poorly developed nervous system.
You may find that your child improves more comprehensively after doing primitive reflex integration and Rhythmic Movement Therapy.
Your child may also need some or many other therapies that we list here such as vision therapy or auditory therapy.
Still looking for answers?
We highly recommend that you work with a qualified health practitioner such as the ones found in our Practitioner Directory to help your child remove the toxicity that caused the need for occupational therapy in the first place.
You will typically find that your child also needs to address nutritional deficiencies, immune dysregulation, gut dysbiosis and hormonal imbalances that are concomitant to your child’s toxicity.