Occupational Therapy is directed at facilitating a child’s development and ability to function effectively and independently. Primary treatment utilizes sensory integrative techniques, which expose a child to different types of sensory input through play to promote a desired response to their environment.
Sensory experiences include touch, movement, body awareness, sight, sound, and the pull of gravity. The process of the brain organizing and interpreting this information is called sensory integration. Sensory integration provides a crucial foundation for later, more complex learning and organized behavior. For most children sensory integration develops in the course of ordinary childhood activities. Motor planning ability is a natural outcome of the process, as is the ability to adapt in incoming sensations. For some children, sensory integration does not develop as effectively as it should. When the process is disordered, a number of problems in learning, development, or behavior may become evident.
Intervention also emphasizes neuromuscular techniques, which involve the movement of a child’s joints and muscles to help train the nervous system to respond appropriately to changes in position and posture.
Therapists may utilize the Handwriting Without Tears Program developed by Jan Z. Olsen, OTR which is the California adopted handwriting program, although, not necessarily adopted by each school district. Parents are encouraged to participate in weekly activities to enhance their child’s skills. The Therapeutic Listening Program developed by Shelia Frick, OTR, may also be incorporated into a treatment program. Therapeutic Listening uses sound in combination with sensory integrative treatment techniques. CDs are electronically altered and vary in musical style, quality of sounds, and level of refinement. Selection is very individualized for each child.
Therapists engage children through exciting, goal directed fine and gross motor activities, and play to facilitate skills and function in everyday activities.