SENSORY AND DEVELOPMENTAL ISSUES
Sensory Processing Disorder, though not formally recognized as a diagnosis, is often identified in children and adults by parents, teachers, and professionals. The way individuals respond to everyday sensory stimuli like light, sound, movement, and touch can vary, leading to over or under-reactions. Simple experiences such as the feel of a t-shirt tag, the ticking of a clock, a bumpy school bus ride, supermarket fluorescent lights, or the flickering of televisions in restaurants can significantly affect the attention and behavior of those sensitive to these stimuli.
Understanding the triggers for these changes in attention or behavior can be challenging because sensory perception is subjective. If you've always accurately perceived your sensory world, it's hard to imagine others experiencing the same stimuli differently. Besides the five common senses, we also have the vestibular sense, which helps us perceive head movement, and proprioception, which informs us of our body's position in space. Accurately perceiving our bodies and movement is crucial for the brain to maintain orientation, balance, and stability. Errors in this sensory processing can greatly influence attention and behavior.
At the Connections Brain-Based Therapy Center, we conduct thorough assessments of these sensory systems. We observe and measure the brain's predictable reflexive responses to sensory stimuli. For instance, we should be able to precisely identify where we are touched, or when turning our head, our eyes should move oppositely to maintain focus on a target. Errors in these and other tests can indicate a sensory processing issue, which can often be corrected with therapeutic intervention.
Currently, 1 in 42 boys and 1 in 68 children overall are diagnosed with autism, making it the fastest-growing developmental disorder in the United States. Autism is not the only developmental disorder; delays in speech, motor skills, and pervasive developmental disorders are also prevalent. ADHD, for instance, is seen as a delay in the development of networks for attention and impulse control.
Every child with a developmental delay is unique, requiring individualized assessment and a tailored intervention strategy. These strategies might need to include components of speech, motor, sensory, social, behavioral, and emotional development.
In autism, research on the cause and brain networks involved is ongoing and sometimes contradictory, leading to a wide range of individual presentations. Our individualized assessments at the Connections Brain-Based Therapy Center are structured, examining fundamental brainstem reflexes, coordination from the cerebellum, sensory and motor functions from higher brain areas, and executive functions from the frontal lobes. This approach allows us to analyze foundational brain functions, pinpoint specific breakdowns, and develop personalized, evidence-based strategies for progress.
A key focus in our evaluations is the child’s system for orientation. The brain prioritizes a sense of orientation for safety and awareness, combining vestibular, visual, and proprioceptive inputs. If this system is even slightly misaligned, the impact can be substantial. Therefore, our therapies often include vestibular therapy, ocular-motor training, and sensory-motor activities, all vital components of our treatment plans.