Therapy Techniques

Sensory Integration (aka Sensory Processing)

Sensory Integration (aka Sensory Processing)

Sensory integration is the brain’s ability to organize sensations for use.  Our senses give us information about the physical conditions of our body and the environment around us.  The brain must organize (integrate) all of these sensations for a person to learn and behave functionally.  When the brain is able to organize these sensations well, the brain uses the sensations to form perceptions and behaviors.  The use of new perceptions and behaviors to accomplish a task results in learning.

What is Sensory Integration?

Sensations are “food for the brain”.  They provide the energy and knowledge needed to direct the body and mind.  Without well-organized sensory processes, sensations cannot be digested and nourish the brain.

Sensory integration is the ability to put information together to form a whole picture from pieces of information.  Integration enables the brain to see the “big picture” as well as break it down into component pieces.

How does sensory integration develop?

Integration is what turns sensations into perception.  We perceive our bodies, other people, and objects because our brain has integrated sensory impulses into meaningful forms and relationships.  Sensory integration begins in the womb as the fetus senses the movements of the mother’s body.  It occurs and develops throughout life so that children may master the tasks of crawling and walking.  Childhood play leads to sensory integration as the child organizes the sensations of his body and gravity with sight and sound.  A child who learns to organize his play is more likely to organize his school work and become an organized adult.

Until about seven years old, the brain is primarily a sensory processing machine.  Young children do not have many abstract thoughts or ideas about things, they are concerned mainly with sensing them and moving their body in relationship to those sensations.

How does sensory integration work?

When the sensory integrative capacity of the brain is sufficient to meet the demands of the environment, the child’s response is efficient, creative, and satisfying.  This is called an adaptive response.  When the child experiences challenges to which he can respond effectively, he is “having fun”.  In some respects, “fun” is a child’s word for sensory integration.

What happens when sensory integration is impaired?

When the brain does a poor job of integrating sensations, this will interfere with many things in life.  About five to ten percent of children in the US have enough trouble with sensory integration to cause them to be slow learners or to have behavioral problems.  Children may reach motor milestones such as rolling, crawling, and walking later than other children.  These children may not play as skillfully as other children.  And these children may develop language skills later than other children.

Often, these problems do not become apparent until a child attends school.  Children have a lot of expectations to meet while in school.  They must learn new things, get along with peers and teachers, dress themselves, change from one task to another, pay attention with a room full of distractions, and remember multi-step commands.  A child with sensory integration problems may be over-stimulated by a busy classroom environment.  The child’s brain may respond to the overwhelming amount of information with a lot of excess activity that is attempting to balance the brain’s confusion, or a decreased level of activity that is trying to shut out the confusing stimuli.  Every child with poor sensory integration shows a different set of symptoms and typically developing children show a few of these problems at one time or another.  It is only when the child has many problems that occur much of the time and interfere with activities of daily living, that parent should be concerned.

What is sensory integration therapy?

Sensory integration therapy teaches the child to use many connections in the brain simultaneously.  This is achieved by presenting the child with a combination of sensory stimuli (tactile, vestibular, proprioceptive, gustatory, visual, and olfactory) that is appropriate to the child’s deficit.  It emphasizes the connections in the brain stem, where many types of sensations come together.

This stimulation is one of the things that normal play provides the average child.  Children must learn to receive the proper information from the senses and process the information received for further use.

Children with sensory integrative dysfunction rarely give themselves the proper stimulation on their own.  Therefore, therapy provides an opportunity for the child to participate in guided play that will help the brain work better.  Therapists utilize a play format to engage the child so that the therapy will be maximally effective.  It takes a tremendous amount of skill to make therapy look casual, but both the child and the therapist are actually working very hard.  All the activities are purposeful and directed toward a goal.  Therapy is not designed to learn specific skills, but to learn how to organize the brain so that it will work better.  This organization can be used by the child to learn specific skills.  The ultimate goal of sensory integration therapy is self-development and/or self-organization.

Interactive Metronome® (IM)

Interactive Metronome® (IM)

Interactive Metronome® (IM) is a neuromotor assessment and treatment tool used in therapy to improve the neurological processes of motor planning and sequencing.  Children on the IM program improve in attention, physical endurance, the ability to filter distractions, visual processing, coordination/balance, and auditory processing.  Read more about IM on

The Listening Program® (TLP)

The Listening Program® (TLP)

The Listening Program® (TLP) is a music based auditory stimulation method that provides engaging brain stimulation to improve performance in school, home, and play.  Systemic training is provided through listening to psychoacoustically modified classical music which trains the brain to process sound more efficiently, leading to improvement in:

  • Learning
  • Attention
  • Listening
  • Sensory processing
  • Auditory processing
  • Self-regulation
  • Behavior
  • Academics

Read more about TLP on

Neurodevelopmental Treatment

Neurodevelopmental Treatment (NDT)

What is NDT?

Neurodevelopmental Treatment (NDT) is a holistic approach to therapy that addresses all aspects of an individual’s living skills. It is a management approach that is used to treat individuals with central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) involvement. NDT considers the physical, emotional, and cognitive development of the child when designing an individualized treatment strategy. The NDT approach utilizes knowledge of normal movement patterns and applies that knowledge in the assessment of a child’s alignment and movement. By analyzing the child’s alignment and movement, the therapist determines what physical challenges are impacting the child’s posture.

How does NDT work?

NDT strives to facilitate normal movement through the use of therapeutic handling. A child may initially require a lot of handling and guidance to produce a desired movement, but with time, the goal of NDT is to reduce and eventually eliminate the amount of handling necessary for a child to complete a given movement. As the child grows, and their movement needs change, the therapeutic handling strategy is altered to meet the child’s needs.

What is the goal of NDT?

NDT strives to maximize movement quality in all environments including home, school, work, and community. NDT focuses on helping individuals achieve meaningful, practical, and sustainable changes by showing the child how to use their new movement strategy to achieve a goal that is important to them, like reaching for a toy, standing up to receive a hug, or walking to a parent.

Who may benefit from NDT?

NDT may be beneficial for children with the following diagnoses: acquired Central Nervous System involvement (such as cerebral palsy and traumatic brain injury), muscular dystrophy, genetic conditions including Down’s syndrome, developmental delay and motor learning difficulties, myelomeningocele, and multiple sclerosis.

Therapists may obtain certification in NDT techniques by completing a two month course in the NDT approach.   For more information please contact or call the Neuro-Developmental Treatment Association, Inc. at 1.800.869.9295

Motor Learning Approach

Motor Learning Approach

What does it take to learn to perform a task?  How do we learn to perform a task better once we learn the basics?  Whether it is playing tennis, walking, or driving a car we use motor learning every day.  Therapy uses the principle of motor learning to teach clients how to perform new skills and how to take the skills they already possess to the next level.

What is motor learning?

Motor learning is the initiation and execution of movement.  Whenever you take an idea about movement (ideation) and turn it into action, you are utilizing motor control.  Motor learning results when there is a change in the capability of a person to perform a skill.  Whenever you change the way you perform a movement, motor learning has occurred.  Motor learning is the direct result of both practice and experience.

What is the goal of the motor learning approach?

The goal of the motor learning approach is learning, not performance.  Performance is the momentary strength of a the response.  It is the ability to complete a specific task right after the task has been practiced, but the inability to perform the task the next day because learning has not occurred.  On the other hand, learning is the underlying habitual strength of the response (it becomes more automatic).  It is the ability to use the knowledge while practicing a specific skill to complete a new task.

What are the principles of motor learning?

Motor learning stresses that variable practice is fundamental to the development of new skills.  Variable practice is “repetition without repetition”.  It is repeatedly performing a task while some part of the task is changing.  The participant is required to modify their skill with each repetition to meet the demands of the changing task.

Motor learning involves the learner in goal setting.  Tasks are easier to remember if it is desirable, relevant, important, and motivating to the learner.  Allowing the learner to assist in setting up the task so that it is meaningful to them promotes long-term memory of the skills learned while practicing the task.

Motor learning also encourages active problem solving.  Allowing a learner to think through a task and make mistakes will provide them with the knowledge needed to complete not only the task before them, but other similar tasks in a variety of situations.  Errors are a part of the learning process.  The knowledge gained by making a mistake is used to improve task completion.

The motor learning approach allows for the modification of the information presented.  For example, the amount of information presented to children with attention deficits is limited to allow the learner to focus on one key element of the task at a time to optimize learning.  This includes breaking down a task into smaller portions and simplifying the practice environment to reduce distractions.

Motor learning uses many different types of practice.  The learner may begin by practicing a piece of a complex task and then practice the task as a whole.  The learner may use mental practice (going through the steps of the task in their head) and verbal practice (speaking the necessary steps) to help them recognize the components and the requirements of the task.

Motor learning also provides the learner with feedback to assist the learner in recognizing their own internal feedback (what their body is telling them) so that the learner can identify what “feels right.”

Different aspects of the motor learning approach are incorporated into treatment techniques utilized by The Therapy Village’s therapists.  These principles are used so that your child’s capabilities may be optimized during the treatment session not just for performance, but for actual motor learning to occur.

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