FROM CAROLINA: A parent recently asked me if The Son-Rise Program can help children with sensory integration challenges – and I had so much fun answering the question that I was inspired to share with all of you. The Son-Rise Program playroom is a magical place – and is the perfect place to help children with sensory integration challenges.
“Sensory Processing Disorder” (sometimes called “sensory integration dysfunction”) means that a child’s brain has a challenge processing and acting on the input it receives from the surrounding environment. Children can demonstrate sensory processing challenges in a variety of ways – a child might cover his ears to protect from certain sounds, resist touch, refuse certain types of clothing, find it difficult to focus on the task at hand or seem clumsy in everyday physical activities.
At The Son-Rise Program, we believe in neuroplasticity – the brain’s ability to grow new neurons and build new pathways. Because the brain is able to grow and change, children are able to learn to correctly integrate sensory input. They simply need some support along the way to grow these new neural pathways – and the Son-Rise Program playroom is the perfect place to begin this process.
It is easier for a child to learn to correctly integrate sensory input when in a distraction-free, controllable environment where the child gets to control how much sensory input he/she has to take in at any one moment. The playroom is the perfect place for this. Imagine trying to grow an important part of your brain while navigating a shopping mall the day before Christmas – you’d probably have a hard time doing both simultaneously. All of your energy would be lost trying to protect you from the overwhelming environment you’re in. If we give the child an easy environment, the child’s brain is able to start working on those new pathways, instead of using up all of the brain’s energy protecting from overstimulation.
The playroom is also the perfect place to implement sensory integration therapy – to gently introduce a child
to a healthy sensory diet. For example, with a child who is sensitive to touch – in the playroom we give the child control so they know that we won’t do anything they don’t feel comfortable with. Then, when the child is connected and motivated for interaction, we can offer a gentle sensory input – perhaps lightly brushing the child’s arm. If he allows it, we continue – to help the child become used to this level of touch. We then build up to more squeezing, scratching, tickling, etc. – all by slowly adding in the sensory input – always with the child’s permission.
We have seen many children with sensory integration challenges become open to sensory input after spending time in a Son-Rise Program playroom. And I can tell you from personal experience that it is the most wonderful feeling in the world to receive that first hug, or be able to sing that first song to a child who was previously defensive to sound, or to hear a child giggling because he has finally allowed me to tickle him. Wishing you all these beautiful moments in your playrooms!
Love to all of you,