Archives for posts with tag: vestibular

cute picture of hands with paintSensory Issues…when to worry, when to intervene, and when to relax.

We all have them… those little “quirks” that make you feel “wigged out” or “stressed out”. It may be the way your skin crawls at the sight of a centipede, walking barefoot in the grass, or wearing wool. You may need to cut out those irritating tags in your shirts. Maybe you get overwhelmed with all the kids talking (or screaming) in the car and can’t wait for the peace and quiet. You may crave a massage, neck or back rub to calm down. Your children have sensory preferences too. Some like to swing fast, some like to rock and be held, and some love to jump on a trampoline to feel calm and organized.

But when does a “sensory preference” become “Sensory Processing Disorder”?
Children and adults can suffer from sensory issues that affect their daily life skills and their social interactions. These issues are far more interfering than that pesky shirt tag. When a sensory issue has crossed the line into interfering with daily life with how an individual acts or reacts to their environment, then it is considered a “disorder” not a “quirk”.

This is the child that cannot tolerate playing with other children at a party due to being overly sensitive to sounds, touch, or movement. Or it may be the infant that cannot be consoled by typical rocking, massage, or being held. It’s the child who doesn’t sit still, fidgets and squirms, and craves wrestling, jumping, running, and climbing in excess. Many adults suffer from sensory issues that affect their daily life and limit them in the ability to socialize or even connect in personal relationships. When you are fighting daily over what your child needs to wear, eat, or their ability to tolerate normal grooming then it’s time to get some help.

Newest Research on SPD
Sensory Processing Disorder or “SPD” is a term used in the therapy community to describe a group of symptoms in which an individual’s nervous system over or under reacts or misinterprets sensations of touch, taste, smell, sounds, vision, movement, and muscles/joints. SPD is more prevalent in children than autism and as common as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, yet the condition receives far less attention partly because it’s never been recognized as a distinct disease. In a groundbreaking new study from UC San Francisco, researchers have found that children affected with SPD have quantifiable differences in brain structure, for the first time showing a biological basis for the disease that sets it apart from other neurodevelopmental disorders. One of the reasons SPD has been overlooked until now is that it often occurs in children who also have ADHD or autism, and the disorder has not been listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual used by psychiatrists and psychologists.
“Until now, SPD hasn’t had a known biological underpinning,” said senior author Pratik Mukherjee, MD, PhD, a professor of radiology and biomedical imaging and bioengineering at UCSF. “Our findings point the way to establishing a biological basis for the disease that can be easily measured and used as a diagnostic tool,” Mukherjee said.
Therapy is available with sensory integration trained occupational therapists to help individual’s sensory systems get “organized” and learn how to make accommodations in their daily routines to help calm their sensory nerves. Many insurance companies cover these services if they are affecting daily life skills or causing developmental delays.

The following are some “red flags” for when a sensory processing therapy evaluation may be needed:
“Sensory Avoider” Reacts with fear, flight, or aggression to any typical sensations such as: unexpected touch, loud noises, textures or certain clothing on skin, screams at haircuts or hair brushing, upset by typical movement experiences such as swinging or climbing, avoids touching foods or gags at sight of new foods, cries excessively over a small bump or cut, or gets carsick easily.
“Sensory Craver” Craves excessive amounts of movement, loud voice volume, “on the go” constantly, difficulty with attention, uses too much force in touch, takes too many risks on the playground, or spins excessively. These children are constantly “on the go”!
“Clumsy” Sensory motor issues can show up as gross or fine motor skill delays such as being very accident prone, poor balance skills, low muscle tone, difficulty learning to ride a bike, catch a ball, hop on one foot, or fine motor skill delays learning to write, cut, or do fasteners.

Most children and adults with SPD are a mixture of both under and over sensitive, which explains why inconsistent behavior is a hallmark of the disorder” states Lindsey Biel, co-author of Raising a Sensory Smart Child. “It’s not an obvious diagnosis. The behavior of a child with SPD can be confused with that of a kid who may have overlapping behaviors and a different diagnosis, such as ADHD. A child who doesn’t get enough proprioception will seek ways to stimulate his muscles and joints-continuously moving, or chewing. What’s more roughly 40% of the time kids have both SPD and ADHD.” states Dr. Lucy Miller founder of the STAR Center, a SPD therapy and research center in Colorado.

Finding the right help to understand sensory issues and a therapist that knows therapeutic procedures and activities that re-wire the sensory nervous system can be the beginning of understanding your child, yourself, and helping both of you get through the sensory filled world calm and collected.
To learn more please visit: or

Heidi Clopton, Pediatric Occupational Therapist
Center of Development Pediatric Therapies

this is creeping position, not crawling

this is creeping position, not crawling

Everyone knows that Early Intervention is the key to treating children with developmental delay.
But, did you know that orthopedic and fascial conditions can also affect development as they grow?

Babies with torticollis, weakness, scoliosis, or stiffness in their muscles or fascial system can have difficulty properly developing their vision, vestibular, and balance systems.

They may also have symptoms similar to ADHD, ADD, sensory processing disorder, or autism by the time they are toddlers or preschoolers.

Babies can have fascial restrictions from birth that lead to these problems and continue to get worse as the child grows, causing pelvic obliquity, limb length discrepancy, torticollis, even progressing to scoliosis, adult arthritic conditions, and spine pain over time.

Children with pelvic obliquity and leg length discrepancy as little as 1/8” or even mild torticollis can develop scoliosis, be delayed in development of quadruped creeping, balancing, and ambulation skills.

Children with even minor torticollis or scoliosis can develop delays in vision and sensory processing that cause them to have difficulty with bilateral coordination.

Sheri Brimm, PT is now available to treat children at Center of Development. She has developed a comprehensive evaluation and treatment system which utilizes manual therapy techniques such as myofascial release and soft tissue and joint mobilization techniques, as well as traditional strengthening and sensory integration techniques to treat the whole child in a 3 dimensional manner. She has noted improvements in pelvic obliquity and movement that result in the child improving their developmental skills and balance dramatically.

Sheri is specializing in John Barnes Myofascial Release techniques and the Total Motion Release Program (by Tom Dalonzo-Baker) that work well for children and are easy to follow as a home program for parents. These techniques work!!

Early Intervention is the key to better outcomes!
The earlier we can evaluate and intervene for children 3 and under, the more improved functioning we can see by Kindergarten. Medically necessary therapies are very different than educational therapies through TEIS or school systems. Most children need both to make huge gains in development! Families rely solely on their pediatrician’s referral for medically based therapies.
Here are some “red flags” to know when to refer for medically based pediatric therapies.
Gross Motor
Any known medical diagnosis can be considered a “red flag”: Down’s syndrome, cerebral palsy, congenital heart condition, frequent ear infections, sensory avoiders, low muscle tone or high tone…
Newborn to 3 months old:
• Unable to turn head both ways fully or postures with sidebend of neck and trunk ( Possible torticollis or fascial restrictions causing pelvic obliquity and tightness of neck muscles)
•Breathing erratically, has excessive belly breathing, caving in at chest, appears restless, has excessive tongue thrusting (could be sign of fascial restrictions or high muscle tone)
•Constipated or having difficulty with reflux (could be sign of fascial restrictions in abdomen, pelvis, or chest area)
•Not moving arms and legs equally on both sides, not bringing hands to midline, not making eye contact, maintains arms/legs fully flexed or fully extended position (signs of muscle tone abnormalities)
Six to Nine Months:
• Not rolling by 6 months of age from supine to prone both R and L sides
• Not pushing up on straight arms, lifting his head and shoulders, by 7 months of age
• Not sitting upright in a child-sized chair by 9 months of age
• Not sitting independently by 7 months of age and falls over easily
• Not crawling (”commando” crawling–moving across the floor on his belly) by 9-10 months of age or inability to move legs or arms equally

Ten to Fourteen months:
• Not creeping (on all fours, what is typically called “crawling”) by 11 months of age or any abnormal creeping patterns like bottom shuffling or scooting.
• Not pulling to stand by 10 months of age
• Not standing alone by 12 months of age
• Not walking by 14 months of age

Age 2 years and above:
• Not jumping, kicking, catching or throwing a ball by 28 months of age
• Not independent on stairs (up and down) by 30 months of age
• “walking” their hands up their bodies to achieve a standing position
• walking on their toes, not the soles of their feet
• frequently falling/tripping, for no apparent reason
• still “toeing in” at two years of age

For referral information and insurance coverage questions, please call 931-372-2020. Centers of Development.