By: Jolene Burch
What if you were told that many of the symptoms your child experiences (i.e anxiety, withdrawal, aggression/defiance, picky eating, or inattention/distractibility), can be significantly reduced with appropriate therapy programming?
SMART therapy, developed by a pediatric occupational therapist Jolene Burch, consists of an individualized treatment plan including a unique combination of the following services: Sensory integration, Mindfulness education, Alternative & nutrition support, Reflex integration, and therapy Toolkits for carryover success!
Poor sensory processing can result in over or under-stimulation, which affects an individual’s level of attention and ability to adapt and acquire skills. When a child is not regulated or organized in his/her body due to increased environmental stimulation or lack thereof, he/she cannot reach his/her greatest potential. Sensory integration therapy provides each child with purposeful and controlled environmental experiences to train the brain how to process sensory stimuli appropriately and have appropriate responses to such body sensations. It builds a strong foundation for future development, including lifelong self-regulation, self-help, and executive functioning skills.
Integrated primitive and postural reflexes are as equally important as efficient sensory processing. Retained reflexes can hinder maturation of the nervous system, which can result in sympathetic dominance patterning, such as increased fight or flight responses and poor control over basic body functions (respiration/heart rate, elimination, body temperature regulation, and hormone production for hunger/thirst/digestion/sleep). Retained reflexes can also hinder physical development resulting in poor core stability, fine motor, and ocular motor skills necessary for balance, reading, and writing tasks. Reflex integration consists of guided exercises to correct maladaptive postures and positions to gain control over early movements, many of which emerge in utero and first few years of life. It involves the concept of neuroplasticity, in that an individual can develop new brain connections, or neural pathways, at any age, with the repetitive practice and guided support that our reflex integration therapy provides!
Moreover, there is scientific evidence that there is an undeniable connection between gut health and the wellbeing of the mind and body. Providing alternative therapy and nutrition support is another important layer of what our center incorporates in many of our treatment plans. Nutritional imbalances are important to correct as they often disrupt the body’s ability to make hormones and neurotransmitters necessary for metabolism (energy) and emotional regulation (mood).
In addition, research demonstrates the importance of teaching mindfulness to children to build positive emotion, empathy, and resiliency; parents who implement mindful parenting techniques can promote healthy and positive bonds with their children. The last layer of support is the thorough patient education we provide during and after treatment sessions. We believe that when parents receive training to use our toolkits they can help their children feel successful in all environments, including at home, on the go, and at school.
The Alternative Therapy Center for Children, located in Shelton, provides specialized occupational therapy and holistic wellness services. Each individualized treatment program includes sensory and reflex integration as well as optional alternative therapies, such as nutrition consulting, craniosacral therapy, and light & sound healing. We also provide monthly classes and workshops for families.