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Occupational Therapy -- Help for the Sensory Sensitive Child

Posted by Brian Spence on Feb 10, 2017 8:00:00 AM

Occupational Therapy, Allied Health, COTAThe way we process the world around us is the foundation of how we function, physically, socially, and emotionally. Most of us use our primary five senses (and there are many more) to navigate through life, with the central nervous system sending us information as we process it and act with appropriate responses.

For children with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), the messages and responses are short-circuited somehow and produce a neurological “traffic jam” that prevents certain parts of the brain from receiving the information needed to interpret sensory information correctly. Adults can also suffer from SPD. 

This inability to integrate what is going on around them to how they respond is commonly associated with Austism Sprectrum Disorder(ASD), and related conditions; but it can and does occur with other impairments such as brain tumor, injury, or developmental delay.

Children with no specific diagnosis also suffer from SPD. Sensory processing disorders affect five to sixteen percent of school age children. Hypersensitivity to sound, light, touch and noise makes daily life difficult; it can make kids physically sick, anxious and even cause meltdowns. Undersensitivity causes problems for children who don't feel pain to the same degree as others. Distractibility, unsteady balance and difficulty with coordination, not to mention behavioral problems, make life difficult for these young people.

Occupational Therapy offers interventions to help these children acquire skills to adjust to their environment and feel more secure in interacting with others. Sensory Integration Therapy is used to give children with sensory deficits an opportunity to interact with their physical environments

Sue Wahl, an occupational therapist trained in Sensory Integration Therapy, has opened a type of "sensory gym" in the clinic where she works with other clinicians in physical therapy and OT.

Individual assessments provide for specific treatment plans for each child. This room has with materials and play things that allow gentle experiences for kids to learn to deal with stimuli and react in appropriate ways. They are exposed to textures and surfaces in order to help them adjust; “It’s touch that they can tolerate,” Wahl said.

Improvement in daily function helps these children assimilate better in the classroom, family and other groups. Parents are encouraged that there is therapy available to help their kids live better and happier lives.

The average salary of an occupational therapist is over $81K. If you are considering a new position in a healthcare related field please contact us for information.


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