Therapy Centre NI, Dungannon
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How can Occupational Therapy help?

I am here to help your child develop more independent skills and realise their greatest potential. I provide “just the right challenges” to help them achieve new skills in each therapy session and build their self-confidence.

I provide the essential sensory calming and just right challenging environment that research shows is best for a child to learn and engage such as:

  • Calming natural lighting
  • Wide open space
  • Colours of blue and purple which are calming for the brain
  • Sensory & movement breaks to get the oxygen flowing.
  • I start each therapy session with a research based BRAIN READY APPROACH...

This approach was developed and researched by Bonnie Hanschu, a leading OT in the area of neuro-behavioural & neuro-transmitter based therapy treatments. Using this approach the child is “ready to learn” after vestibular, proprioceptive & deep pressure touch therapeutic procedures like swinging, balance activities, jumping, and weighted therapeutic procedures. 

I work on primitive reflex integration each therapy session with training for home to gain optimal motor coordination to help the child achieve the highest level of motor coordination possible. 

The READY APPROACH uses the most powerful sensation first- VESTIBULAR

The vestibular sensation comes from the inner ear and is the most powerful sense, helping to regulate and integrate all the other sensations. Swinging activates the vestibular system greatly, causing a ripple effect to all other sensory systems for improved integration with vision, coordination, postural control, listening skills and attention. When we can combine swinging with eye-hand coordination tasks and visual activities we can greatly improve a child's visual-vestibular integration which leads to much improved visual attention, seated attention and postural control for all other functional skills.

Proprioception- Joints and Muscles!

Our joints and muscles play a very important role in our coordination, balance, motor skills for daily functional tasks, postural control, muscle tone and how long we can sit and attend. Proprioception is the feeling of where your joint is in space without looking.  This is vital to good coordination and muscle coordination. 

Jumping, crawling on all 4's, scooter board fun, pushing, pulling, and lifting weighted balls are all used to increase the joints signalling strength. A child's core strength and stability is a huge factor in how balanced and coordinated they can be in fine motor tasks. Activities to improve core strength and stability are vital to helping a child gain strength and stability in the centre of their body, allowing their upper limbs to do the fine motor tasks.

A strong core along with integrated vestibular processing will help a child be able to sit and attend without fidgeting or slumping.

The overall impact of proprioceptive & vestibular activities is good body awareness to calm the central nervous system, improve coordination & increase focus and attention for fine motor and functional life tasks.

Touch Processing

Most of us are not aware but we have two very specialized touch systems on our skin. Light touch receptors are there to protect us. A fly lands on your skin, you are alerted by your brain and you swat it away to protect yourself, the stress is momentary, but very real. Unfortunately, many children have overly sensitive or hyperactive touch systems which are alerting them constantly and causing them great stress over very light touch they encounter. They often over-react to things like tags, clothing textures, being touched in a queue at school, messy textures, foods, etc. This causes them GREAT stress all day and all night.

The other touch system we have is deep pressure touch. This is the system that helps you feel calm when hugged or massaged. Therapeutically, we use the deep pressure calming touch system to treat the over-reactive light touch system. This is why you may see your OT using a brush on the skin, rolling a ball over their back and arms, using vibration pads, weighted blankets, weighted vests, hand hugs and other researched therapeutic interventions. The touch system needs calming deep pressure touch every 1.5 to 2 hours to overcome the stress of the light touch hypersensitivities. Calming deep pressure touch activities will be demonstrated for you to do at home and carry over into all environments to help your child stay calm and less stressed.

We use sensory calming spaces as options for your child to "re-boot" when overwhelmed.  We may use a lower back vibration cushion and move and sit seat wedge to help them sit for longer periods in therapy.  Weighted vests, weighted blankets and massage vibration mats are options to try in therapy and we can help you carry these over in the home environment!  

Sensory Activities throughout the day

 Just like eating a healthy diet is very important to your brain and muscles, so is a healthy sensory filled daily routine. A sensory-based daily routine includes the daily therapy activities that will help your child's brain be ready to learn and complete all the development and motor challenges they face every dy. A regular dose of sensory-based therapeutic activities carried out in the home and school environments will give them the vital brain and muscle food they need.

Sensory activities directly affect your child's brain neuro-transmitters which affect mood, attention & focus.

Some of these sensory activities are quite simple like swinging, jumping and exercising daily. These sensory plans are detailed in your OT intervention plan, and will be continuously changed to meet the needs of the child and the family.

Movement is a MAGIC Potion:

We live in a very sedentary society. Our children are forced to sit at too young of an age for long periods of time. Due to the high demands of the sedentary classroom environment at a very young age, it is important that the home environment includes lots of movement and safe outdoor playtime.

Having a swing set and playground, or going to the local park, is very important to help them be able to sit later at the dinner table or at school.  Too much sedentary screen time on mobile phones, iPads and games consoles will limit brain development not help your child succeed in the school environment.  Hands on learning and playground play will help them greatly!

Children with sensory processing disorders often are very stressed and overwhelmed, the best calming activity for them is to be able to come home and swing, run, jump and play. Being in nature is calming due to the greens and blues they look at release calming brain chemicals. Opportunities to jump on mini trampolines indoors or a safety netted trampoline outdoors can help alleviate stress, and help them calm and improves muscle strength and tone greatly. Activities such as running or riding a bike are wonderful and should be encouraged for at least an hour a day in place of near electronic play or TV watching. They will sleep better at night too!

Overview of Occupational Therapy Interventions

• Collaborate with families, physicians, nurses, speech-language pathologists, physical therapists, psycholo­gists, teachers, employers, and other professionals to determine the need for specialized evaluation and intervention.

• Identify and modify sensory and environmental barriers that limit performance and participation in every­day activities, as well as individual strengths and supports.

• Teach and model activities to support sensory, motor, and emotional needs.

• Identify and provide adaptive sensory and motor strategies and interventions using a variety of sensory approaches to facilitate full participation in daily routines and social interactions.

• Help raise an individual’s self-awareness of the impact of sensory and motor factors on everyday activities and real-life situations, and provide ways to get around sensory processing challenges.

• School aged children with sensory integration problems. A variety of sensory-based approaches can address life skills, participation, and behaviours needed at home, in the community, and in the classroom. In addition to direct intervention, modifications to the home and classroom environments may be recommended to assist children with participating in daily routines, being independent with self-care skills, progressing at school, playing, making friends, and focusing in order to learn (Ayres, 2005, Schaff & Smith Roley, 2006).

• Adolescents and young adults with a fear of movement, sensitivity to touch, poor motor planning, or de­creased awareness of body position in space. Sensory integration problems may interfere with age-appro­priate life activities such as learning to drive, making vocational choices, engaging in leisure activities, and developing independence and romantic relationships. Very often the emotional and psychological impact of sensory integration difficulties manifest as Mood disorders, anxiety disorders, non-suicidal self injury or suicidal ideation Practitioners may provide direct occupational therapy interventions to address sensory integration and modulation issues and/or may provide accommodations and education to facilitate and improve an adolescent’s functioning. As these young people transition into lifelong work and leisure experiences, occupational therapists can play an important role in iden­tifying and supporting successful performance in these areas (Kinnealey et al., 2011).

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