Here’s How It Works
The information received through all of our senses, including touch, movement, muscles and vision, must be properly interpreted and processed by the brain in order for neurological development to proceed in a normal matter. When the brain does not receive the sensory information correctly, or shuts out completely, the child’s ability to develop gross and fine motor skills, to be successful academically, and to develop social skills are compromised.
These children exhibit a combination of behaviors that frequently indicate that their neurological foundation is not sufficient for them to be successful in the fulfillment of their various roles as a child, sibling, peer and student-yet they may “look” normal.
Developmental Pathways for Kids provides therapy services to develop or enhance the processing of sensory information so that a stronger neurological foundation is available to the child for the development or refinement of gross and fine motor skills, cognition and academic learning, and social interactions.
We believe that every child has potential.
Our goal is to give the children that we treat the chance to fulfill their greatest potential.
What is Sensory Integration?
“Like building blocks, a child’s performance depends on a well-developed nervous system at each level.” (A. Jean Ayres, PhD)
Sensory Integration refers to the function of the human brain that processes and uses the sensory information from within the body and from the external environment.
All the sensory inputs work together to give us a reliable picture of the world and how it relates to us. The senses also integrate to provide a complete understanding of who you are, where you are, and what your body is doing. Because your brain uses sensory information such as sights, sounds, textures, smells, tastes, and movement in an organized way, you assign meaning to your sensory experiences, and you know how to respond and behave accordingly.
There are two major functioning issues that sensory integration addresses: Motor Skills Development (Praxis) and Self Regulation (Sensory Modulation).
Motor Skill Development:
This refers to the ability of the brain to organize one’s movement by utilizing various sensory inputs efficiently to guide and produce movement outputs. When the central nervous system (the brain) is unable to process, use or organize sensory information efficiently, a child will experience challenges in developing body awareness, coordinating the two sides of their body or executing a sequence of movements. As a result, they might demonstrate some of the following symptoms: clumsiness, impulsiveness, disorganization, difficulty learning new motor skills (e.g. tying shoe laces), or challenges in learning to print and write.
This refers the ability of the brain to regulate physical reactions (e.g. heart rate, breathing, temperature, digestive system, alertness, metabolism, etc.) followed by sensory stimulations, so that the body can stay in homeostasis, and the person is able to stay calm, and alert for optimal performance.
When the central nervous system (the brain) over or under reacts to certain sensory inputs, the body will have a series of physical reactions which often affects a child’s behavior and performance. For example, a child may demonstrate difficulty sitting still or paying attention to tasks at hand due to hyperactivity (movement seeking behaviors) as a result of under-responsiveness to the vestibular stimulations (sensations that sense body position against gravity). On the other hand, a child may also demonstrate avoiding behaviors due to being overly sensitive to touch, and refuse to put on certain clothes or have negative reactions toward an unexpected touch from friends.
For most kids, sensory integration skills develop naturally. As children learn about new sensations, they become more confident about their skills, refine their ability to respond to sensory experiences, and are thus able to accomplish more and more. For some children, sensory integration does not develop smoothly because they cannot rely on their senses to give them an accurate picture of the world; they do not know how to behave in response, and they may have trouble learning and behaving appropriately.
“By addressing underlying sensory processing issues, we help children build the foundation for a bright future and enable them to reach their full potential.”