Says Dr. Lucy Jane Miller, director of the Knowledge in Development (KID) Foundation, which specializes in sensory dysfunction research and therapy, "Why swing? Why bounce? We swing children because a child's nervous system is over-aroused. We're trying to help him get into the right state so that he can do what he needs to do -- homework, etc. Every child is different, so we need to know what type of vestibular and proprioceptive input does he need?"
Unfortunately for many families, while occupational therapy (OT) may be offered free of charge through the school district, and a school OT may offer what they call sensory integration therapy, the OTs training may simply be too sketchy to allow for individualized therapy. Generic therapy is often useless. But the cost of a private SI therapist (rarely covered by insurance) can be very high.
To be sure that a child is receiving appropriate therapy, Dr. Miller says, "I recommend that parents make specific goals and check in two months to see if they're making progress. If not, stop and do something else. Don't do too much therapy or too many types of therapy. You need time to play with your kid, and kids need time to play with each other. They do know about other children even if they don't seem to be aware. There is such a thing as too much therapy."
Miller also recommends asking a child's occupational therapist for their continuing education and training background. Have they actually completed courses or certifications in sensory integration therapy? If not, they may be underqualified to work with a child with sensory integration issues.
The KID Foundation does offer a database of trained sensory integration therapists, as does Sensory Integration International (home of the Ayers Clinic). If you can't work with a private therapist, it is certainly appropriate to ask whether a child's OT has had specific SI training, and to have SI goals included in the child's Individual Education Plan (IEP).
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