Paediatric Occupational Therapy
I work with children of all ages using a Sensory Integrative Therapy approach. Early intervention is key, and together, we can make such a difference to what the future holds for a child, if we intervene early, to get things back on track, at a young age. This means that later development takes place on a solid foundation and that all later learning happens more easily. The best time to intervene is NOW!
Difficulties with sensory integration can impact on children’s behaviour, sleep, eating, attention and concentration as well as impacting on their ability to form and maintain relationships, to learn effectively in school and to be flexible and resilient.
Is it Emotional, or is it Sensory?
It is often confusing for parents and teachers to determine whether a child’s awkward or difficult behaviour stems from a difficulty in processing sensory input, or from an emotional difficulty. Often it’s both! I assist parents and teachers in determining the root of the problem and in making simple and lasting changes to resolve difficult behaviour. It is a tough one, but it helps when we understand that the challenging behaviour we see, is the child’s best effort at managing sensory and emotional turmoil! Our aim is to assist children by inviting them to use sensory diet tools which they can use to assist them in managing their emotions. Together with parents and teachers, we can help the child to achieve a more favourable outcome.
Therapy for Babies
- Developmental delay.
- Assistance with Fussy babies.
- Guidance on breastfeeding, and on feeding difficulties in infants and toddlers.
- Guidance on resolving sleep difficulties.
- Guidance on behaviour difficulties which have sensory an emotional basis.
- Analysis of General Movements (Prechtl) in preterm and term babies up to 20 weeks, as a predictor of neurological issues, in order to allow for earlier intervention.
Information and guidance during pregnancy, sharing valuable information regarding foetal and infant development, and the importance of attachment and bonding in the development of Sensory Regulation and Emotional Regulation.
Gross and Fine Motor Development
Many children experience gross and fine motor difficulties. They might have poor core muscle development, which may include weakness in shoulders, arms and hands. Simply practicing fine motor skills, will do little to assist such children. A thorough assessment of sensory and motor development may be required. We can then establish what needs to be addressed and where the priorities lie. Working systematically with other members of the multi-disciplinary team, we can figure how to address intervention in a manner which is respectful of time and financial resources, while still ensuring that the child’s needs are met.
Therapeutic Listening Programme
The ability to process sound is one of the primal forms of sensory integration. The auditory system has provided a major source of information about our basic survival. Sound and movement are waves on the same continuum, – Whether we can hear it or feel it is a matter of the velocity of the wave. Slower vibrations are sensed by the vestibular, proprioceptive and tactile systems. Faster vibrations are sensed by the auditory system. We can feel low frequency sounds before we hear them.
The auditory system is an extension of the vestibular system. The sense of “Body in space” requires the auditory system, while the sense of “Body in place” only requires the vestibular and postural systems.
Listening is the key in our overall ability to orient to the people, places and things in everyday life. It is the process of detecting sound and organising and integrating it for use with information from other senses.
I use Therapeutic Listening as part of a sensory integrative therapy programme. It is almost always used to deal with both modulation difficulties and core or postural issues, at the same time. Monitoring of the breath gives an indication of the functioning of the core musculature.
Sound can be used as a tool to activate different parts of the central nervous system. For example, low frequency sounds impact core musculature, while rhythm stimulates movement. The sound of the human voice impacts on emotions. Basic regulatory functions such as toileting and sleep, can be affected on account of the strong connection between the vagus nerve and auditory processing.
Therapeutic listening often makes an improvement in those aspects which should have been more sub-cortical. Making them sub-cortical relieves the system somewhat, resulting in improved energy for tasks. This is a most valuable therapeutic tool!
Interactive Metronome and IM Home.
The Interactive Metronome (IM) combines the concept of a musical metronome with a patented technology computerized program that accurately measures, assesses, and improves a person’s rhythm and timing. It is the only program that uses a patented auditory guidance system plus interactive exercises to improve the foundational skills essential for learning and development.
The IM program has been shown with empirical research to produce significant results in children and adults with a wide range of physical and cognitive difficulties including ADHD. Research into IM identified five core areas of statistically significant improvements gained through the IM training program:
· Attention and Focus
· Motor Control and Coordination
· Language Processing
· Reading and Math Fluency
· Ability to Regulate Aggression/Impulsivity
The Interactive Metronome is a tool which both tests and improves neural synchronisation. Neural synchronisation refers to the timing in the brain which is vital for neural efficiency.
CranioSacral Therapy offers therapists a gentle and non-invasive therapy tool to align the body and to release restrictions in the CranioSacral system. This system includes the skull bones and vertebral column, and also comprises the membranes and fluid that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord. The CranioSacral system directly impacts the central nervous system. An imbalance or restriction in this system could therefore potentially result in, or impact on, sensory, or neurological difficulties. This intervention in children is often brief, and can be in be incorporated into a typical Occupational Therapy session along with other treatment modalities. In my therapy practice, I use CranioSacral therapy as part of an integrated therapy approach during the course of therapy, rather than as a stand-alone therapeutic tool.
Talks and Workshops
I love sharing information in talks and workshops on Sensory Integration and Child Development. I present CPD accredited workshops to medical professionals, to teachers (SACE accredited), and also to parents. These workshops are presented in person, as well as in video or virtual format.