Since the “occupation” of children is play, it is through the use of this media that occupational therapists assist children in learning the skills necessary for living. Occupational therapists address concerns with: self-care skills; including feeding, bathing, and dressing; fine motor skills (hand skills and dexterity); neuromotor development; and sensory integration.
There are seven senses that form the foundation of sensory integration, they are: visual, auditory, touch, smell, taste, vestibular (pull of gravity) and proprioception (body awareness and movement). These senses give us information about both our external environment and our internal environment. Our brain uses this information to form a composite picture of who we are physically, where we are, and what is going on around us. Sensory integration is the critical function of the brain that is responsible for producing this composite picture. It is also the foundation that allows for complex learning and behavior.
A child with sensory processing dysfunction may exhibit:
- Oversensitivity or undersensitivity to touch, taste, smell or sight
- Oversensitivity or undersensitivity to movement sensation
- Unusually high or low activity level
- Problems with motor coordination
- Difficulty with writing and other hand skills
- Social and emotional problems
- Difficulty with transitions between situations
- Difficulty with self-feeding & dressing skills
- Easily distracted
- Impulsive, lacking in self-control
If you suspect your child may be experiencing sensory integrative dysfunction, or other developmental delays, your pediatrician can make the referral for a comprehensive Occupational Therapy evaluation. “O.T.” can enhance the potential of a child throughout their developmental years and build skills, self-confidence, and self-esteem that lasts a lifetime.