Frequently Asked Questions

What is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational Therapy refers to how one “occupies” their time and searches to uncover what is meaningful, relevant and purposeful for that individual. OT’s complete full evaluations to look for areas of growth and then facilitate individuals in reaching their fullest potential/independence in all aspects of life treatment. This is done either through rehabilitating old skills, facilitating new skills, or adapting the task (occupation), environment, or providing adaptive techniques for the individual. OT’s work one-on-one with clients and their families or caregivers as well as create individualized plans to support the growth and independence of that individual. Care is always accompanied by strong home programs and goals, which are regularly modified to meet the needs of the individual.

What is Pediatric Occupational Therapy?

Pediatric Occupational Therapy is the process of evaluating, assessing and treating a child’s sensory and other important skills that are necessary for appropriate growth and development. This ongoing process leads the occupational therapist in determining what is impacting the child’s skill level, and guides the development of a suitable rehabilitation and/or facilitation program to best meet the needs of the child. Important skills that are evaluated and assessed include:

  • Physical (Gross Motor)
  • Handwriting, Pencil Grip, Dexterity (Fine Motor)
  • Eye-Hand coordination, Perception (Visual Motor)
  • Psychosocial Emotional Skills (Peer Interaction/Social Skills)
  • Communication
  • Behavioral Regulation (Sensory Processing and Modulation)
  • Other important areas assessed include:
    •  Eating
    • Sleeping
    • Self-care skills
    • Toileting

What is Sensory Integration?

Sensory Integration (SI) is a frame of reference/mode of thinking that includes the assessment and treatment of all sensory systems involved with movement and modulation. Only trained occupational therapists, and sometimes speech therapists, can perform the therapy techniques involved with SI treatment. The goal of sensory integration therapy is to activate or deactivate a sensory system, train it to respond appropriately and then integrate that system (facilitating an appropriate automatic response). The sensory systems assessed and treated in SI include:

  • Vestibular (Balance and Body Awareness)
  • Proprioceptive (Body awareness system in the joints and muscle bellies)
  • Tactile (Touch)
  • Visual
  • Auditory
  • Oral
  • Multisensory
  • Other important components to SI that are affected by each sensory system include:
    • Modulation
    • Attention
    • Communication/Speech
    • Social Skills/Interaction

Each sensory system utilizes a part of the nervous system to create or allow for an action or reaction to occur, based on the sensory input received.

Attention is a skill acquired when a child can modulate their behavior/reaction to sensory input.

What is Modulation?

Modulation, also called self-regulation, is the child’s ability to respond appropriately to sensory stimuli. For example, if a child is lightly touched, he/she may brush off the area. Children with sensory difficulties may interpret the light touch as painful and cry or become angry.

 What does Sensory Integration Occupational Therapy look like?

Sensory Integration occupational therapy looks like fun and play!  A typical therapy clinic has fun hanging equipment like swings and spinning tire swings, as well as ball pits, stretchy hammocks to climb in and other fun equipment that challenge the child’s physical body as well as their sensory systems, social/communication skills, modulation and attention. Sensory Integration therapy also utilizes many modalities such as the brushing protocol, Therapeutic Listening Program and more. Check out the Therapies tab for more information on a few of the modalities used in SI therapy.

Why has my child been referred to Occupational Therapy?

A child can be referred for many reasons. Sometimes the referral is just a precautionary “let’s check it out”, whatever “it”/the concern is. An evaluation is an easy process that provides a lot of information and will usually answer most questions and offer some solutions, or rule out any need for therapy at all. The evaluation report will often ease the parent’s/caregiver’s mind.

Other common reasons children are referred to occupational therapy include:

  • The child has a diagnosed condition, such as Autism, PDD, ADD/HD, SPD
  • There is concern of a possible diagnosis
  • The child is not meeting appropriate developmental milestones
  • The child’s
    • Behaviors
    • Sensory difficulties or
    • Modulation deficit

are negatively impacting  or preventing the child from engaging in meaningful occupations necessary for their appropriate growth and development

  • The child displays an eating difficulty that is affecting their growth and development
  • The child engages in a self-injurious behavior
  • The child is not progressing/acquiring new skills
  • The parent is concerned for their child’s wellbeing.