Sensory integration refers to the way the nervous system receives messages from the senses and turns them into appropriate motor and behavioral responses. Sensory integration is the foundation for learning and behavior. "Typically" developing children explore their environment, through movement and play, and spontaneously process sensory information and respond to challenges in the environment. When the signals don't get organized into appropriate responses we see breakdown in learning, behavior, and daily activities. It's like a traffic jam in the brain, which creates challenges performing everyday tasks. A child may over respond to sensation (touch, the feeling of their clothes, being bumped, having a haircut, unexpected noise, scents, bright lights)in a fight, flight or fright state; or a child may seek more intense sensations making it difficult to sit still, pay attention, everyday activities may seem boring or mundane to seeker.
The idea of a sensory integration clinic is not a new concept. A.Jean Ayers developed and tested this theory and it is used around the world in child development centers and occupational therapy clinics.
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In March 2018 I pitched my idea of a mobile sensory integration clinic, a converted school bus that will visit rural communities in southern Alberta. I ran a crowdfunding campaign through ATB financial and successfully raised $10,000 to get my project started.
I currently have 40 students on my caseload from Nanton, down to Crowsnest Pass. I already travel the roads but often don't have the right equipment to help children with sensory issues. What I need is a space with swings, mini trampolines, climbing equipment and crash mats that will travel with me. So with the money I raised in my ATB Booster Campaign, I will start construction and equip my bus. I expect to be operational by September 2018 . The bus will be equipped with specialized sensory equipment to create a fun and safe space for learning and sensorimotor development.
I'm an experienced occupational therapist with training in sensory integration so I can assess the children and set up the bus specific to each child's needs. Children can visit the bus by scheduling appointments on the days the bus will be in their community. The therapist can then make recommendations for home and school activities.
The bus can also be available for small parties.
The mobile sensory clinic will allow rural communities like Pincher Creek, where I live, to access specialized services that are available in urban centers. I have knowledge and expertise using sensory integration frame of reference to help improve behavior, learning, daily functioning, coordination and motor skills.
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