Occupational Therapy

Sensory Processing Disorder – What Does It Mean?

Some children can’t handle sights, sounds and sensations Sensation is the detection of stimuli (environmental or bodily events) whereas Perception is the organization and interpretation of sensory information. To perceive the world accurately the senses must first respond with the optimal level of activity needed to accurately detect the source of the stimulation. Senses that are under-sensitive operate with too low a level of activation. Conversely, senses that are over-sensitive operate at too high a level of activation.

Second, sensory stimuli are converted into neural energy and sent to the brain where a composite of the sensory information must be formed into a coherent whole in order for the source of stimulation to be properly perceived. Disturbances in either the detection or processing of stimuli can cause sensory integration problems. These children are often referred to as Sensory-Avoiders or Sensory-Seeking. Children with sensory integration problems react differently from most other children; Sensory Avoiders are often described with such terms as avoiders, overactive, emotional instability, clumsy, and sensory inappropriate.

Here at The Center School, the OTs have been treating SPD (Sensory Processing Disorders) also known as sensory integration dysfunction since 1979.

Dr A. Jean Ayres a UCLA Psychologist and Occupational Therapist and a pioneer in the field, defined SPD as a mixed bag or syndrome, which involves difficulty handling information that comes in through the senses— not just touch, taste, smell, and sight, but also Proprioceptive and Vestibular senses, which tell us where our arms and legs are in relation to the rest of us and how our body is oriented toward gravity. Some children treated for SPD can’t maintain an upright position at a desk; some are so sensitive to touch that they cry when their nails are trimmed or their hair is combed or cut. Smells and sounds can also be overwhelming, for example the sound of a lawn mower, or vacuum. Here at Center School, in addition to the therapy that is provided to the children, families get instructions on how to adjust their child’s “sensory diets” to help them function better at school and at home. Rona Stokes, M.S., O.T.R./L O

O012ur Occupational Therapy program addresses the sensory-motor, academic, and social needs of the students through individual and group Sensory Diet sessions. The Sensory Diet program provides a variety of sensory-motor activities that stimulate muscles and the sensory system, just as food nourishes the body and is important for survival. In our ‘State of the Art’ 2,000 square foot department, we have the privilege to provide our students with additional services, like ‘Booster’ sessions.  Another unique feature of our 030program is the availability of sensory intensives for selective students to help assist with self-regulation and classroom participation.