Sensory Integration

Sensory Integration is the neurological process by which the brain organises and interprets sensory information. The brain is constantly receiving sensory information from the environment and from inside the body with which it has to make sense of what is happening around us. This process provides a crucial foundation for more complex learning and behaviour.
Sensory integration is part of the developmental process of childhood and matures through everyday ordinary play activities. However, for some children, sensory integration does not develop as efficiently as it should and results in a dysfunction known as Sensory Processing Disorder [SPD]. This difficulty is quite a common and can either exist on its own or with other diagnosis such as  autistic spectrum, ADHD or other neuro developmental disorders. 

SPD can result in a dysfunction to process any one of the following sensory systems: 

Some signs of SPD include (SPD leads to difficulties in learning, motor skills and behaviour):

 

Sensory Integration Therapy For Children

If a child is suspected of having Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), an assessment can be carried out by a qualified therapist who has  post-graduate training in sensory integration. Finding an Occupational Therapist who is trained in Sensory Integration is an essential step in gaining a diagnosis of Sensory Processing Disorder. Not all Occupational Therapists are trained in this area and therefore may not address the underlying causes of some of the more evident difficulties e.g. handwriting, attention, social, play and motor difficulties. WonderKids is able to provide a comprehensive assessment to look at sensory processing and if appropriate a diagnosis of SPD. Sensory integration (SI) therapy is a specific therapeutic approach used in occupational therapy. This involves the use of sensory tools such as suspended equipment, tactile media and climbing equipment in a well equipped room. The Sensory Integration room provides a playful context to promote the child’s inner drive and active participation in activities under the guidance of an SI therapist. It is this active involvement and exploration that enables the child to become a more mature, efficient organizer of sensory information. In Sensory Integration therapy rather then addressing the symptoms we address the underlying foundational skills which are essential in sustaining change. Specific skills training is not usually the focus of this therapy approach. Hence, when a sensory integration approach is used, the aim of the therapy is to address the underlying conditions, rather than teaching a specific task. Sensory Integration therapy is a fun and and highly enjoyable approach for children. It has a positive effect not only on the child’s sensory processing but also on the child’s self-confidence and self-esteem. One important aspect of therapy is that the motivation of the child plays a crucial role in the selection of the activities. Most children tend to seek out activities that provide sensory experiences which will be beneficial to them at that point in their development. From an observer perspective, the therapy session seem like just playing, however this will be specifically designed to match and develop your child’s nervous system needs. Sensory Integration therapy can be combined with conventional occupational therapy approaches. This can have a significant impact on performance and lead to improvements in behaviour, concentration, coordination, fine and gross motor skills, personal organisation and speech, social and academic skills.

Sensory Integration assessment

At WonderKids Paediatric Centre, a Sensory Integration assessment may take place as part of a wider Occupational Therapy assessment. This depends on your child’s needs and involves both standardised assessments and non standardised observations by the SI specialist.  The assessment may take up to 1.5 hours depending on the needs of the child. The fun nature of Sensory integration assessment allows a children to enjoy the assessment and engage willingly in the process. A report summarising the findings will be discussed during a parents meeting.

Sensory Integration  Therapy Sessions

The aim of therapy is promote a change in they way your child responds to the sensory messages and learn new ways how to produce meaningful responses. The therapeutic process involves working with both the child and the parents. Hence, therapy also aims to educate parents, caregivers, families, childcare workers and teachers to provide a context which is conducive to the child’s sensory processing style. The sessions are carried out on a one to one basis, under the guidance of a therapist. The frequency of the sessions will depend on your child’s needs. During SI therapy we will be addressing the underlying causes rather the symptoms and this is essential in sustaining the required change in their behaviour, attention and motor development. The therapeutic impact of the sessions starts when your child actively takes in sensation through the playful context. The therapist will then help to activate the neural pathways and provide organization within the central nervous to produce more regulated responses. Sessions are aimed to teach the children to succeed. During Sensory Integration sessions the SI specialist will use a variety of therapy techniques. These will be individualised to your child’s specific sensory needs. Some of the techniques used may include: Therapressure Brushing Protocol Therapeutic Listening® Family training Implementation of cognitive strategies to promote self-regulation Intense and direct sensory integrative therapy Oral-motor programs Environmental modifications to support a child’s sensory processing patterns  

Recommendations for home and school

As part of the therapeutic process the therapist can carry out school observations. The aim is to advise teachers about the required adaptations to the environment or specific teaching strategies/activities as per your child’s needs. Additionally throughout the program, parents will be given guidance on suitable home activities.

Sensory Integration Services at WonderKids Paediatric Centre Malta

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Assessments

School aged children assessment
Early years Screening and Assessment
Sensory Integration and Praxis Test (SIPT)
ADOS Test
Evaluations for MATSEC Examination Arrangements
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Therapy

Ayres Sensory Integration therapy sessions
Therapeutic Listening
Therapressure Brushing Protocol
Oral motor program
Sensory Diets for home and School
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Education

Nursery informative sessions
School informative sessions
Parents informative sessions
Blog
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Parent support

Parent-focused meetings
Family meetings
Parent coaching
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Multi disciplinary care

Joint assessments
Joint sessions
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Educational Support

Individual Education Plan(IEP) meetings
School Liaison
School observations
Consultative school meetings
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Our Sensory Integration Rooms

WonderKids premises are highly equipped and designed with the latest equipment to provide our clients and their families with the best possible therapeutic outcome.
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