Paediatrics

There are different areas in which children practice their occupation just as adults do. The four main occupations in which children can perform include:

  • Self care

  • Learning

  • Play

  • Socio Emotional skills

Sensory Integration
Sensory integration refers to how people use the information provided by all the
sensations coming from within the body and from the external environment. Our
senses integrate to form a complete understanding of who we are, where we are, and
what is happening around us.
Every day, the brain uses information about sights (vision), sounds (auditory), touch
(tactile), smell (olfactory), taste (gustatory) and movement (vestibular and
proprioception) sensations in an organized way, to assign meaning to the sensory
experience and this helps us respond and behave accordingly.
For example, when walking in a shopping mall, you smell a powerful scent and identify it
as a candle or essential oil and realize that you are walking past an aromatherapy store.
You may stop to enjoy it or may hurry by to escape it.
For most children, sensory integration skills develop naturally. As children learn about
new sensations, they become more confident about their skills, refine their ability to
respond to sensory experiences and are able to accomplish more. For e.g. a baby
startles and cries when a police car drives past blaring a siren, but as the child grows
older, the same noise may cause him just to cover his ears.
For some children, sensory integration does not develop smoothly. These children
either experience sensations too intensely (too loud, too bright or too fast) or may not
even register sensations properly. They don’t know how to behave in response and have
trouble learning and behaving appropriately.
Impaired sensory integration interferes with development, learning and behaviour in
children and adults. People with Sensory integration dysfunction have difficulty
figuring out what is going on inside and outside their bodies and the following
behaviours can result: either avoiding or seeking sensations e.g. a child who has
difficulty integrating tactile input, may avoid unpleasant touch experiences such as
getting his hands messy with paint, sand or glue, while another child may crave such
touch input and actively seek it out. A child who struggles to integrate movement input,
may not want to play on jungle gyms or swings, or may struggle to sit still because he
needs to constantly move.
Occupational Therapy assists to evaluate children with possible Sensory Integrative
difficulties and to identify how these difficulties may be affecting learning and
behaviour. Occupational Therapy focusses on helping a child to integrate sensory
inputs better in order to improve daily skills such as playing, learning, self-care skills
socializing.

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