An occupational therapist is a health professional who assists in the increasing development of a child’s nervous system, increasing the strength and coordination of muscles, and the successful completion of daily life tasks (Goyer, 2013; (Flofmann, 2015; Opp). They primarily deal with fine motor abilities and skills. Furthermore, they help children develop sensory awareness and the corollary motor skills involved in body awareness, bilateral coordination, ocular-motor, and sensory motor skills, etc. Often children with disabilities exhibit Sensory Processing Disorder which affects the bodily awareness of sensory input (Goyer, 2013). Sensory integration was originally defined by A. J. Ayres (1989) as the coordination of two or more sensory functions which enhance adaptation. If this integration is not present, maladaptive responses can be manifest.
An occupational therapist conducts an initial evaluation in which muscle tone, motor planning, and sensory processing, etc. can be deter-mined. Within the school/program, checklists as to a child’s responses in fine motor skills, touch, movement and balance, and visual perception, etc. will augment this information (Koomar, et al.,2007). A major objective of Mason’s Place Too is to have children adapt to their environment. Within the various domains of functioning; motor, sensory processing, cognition, communication, play, and pre-vocational skills, children can be affected by the degree of sensory integration.
The occupational therapist designs practice and generalization activities in which sensory deficts can be dealt with (Goyer, 2013). For example, if a child cannot isolate his/her forefinger to grasp food, activities will be picking up generated to practice a pincer grasp by opening clothespins and picking up buttons his ability can be generalized to real-life situations so that the grasping of larger chunks of cheese can progress to grasping raisins (Opp). Jennifer Twachtman-Reilly (2008) has observed improvements in communication when blowing, rhythmic, and tactile sensory activities were pursued.
We will rely on occupational therapists to enhance the sensorimotor domain, so that cognitive, social, and communication skills can be achieved. These activities will occur in the school/program and then be transferred to the home. Parents will be considered as partners who may suggest fine motor and sensory goals, assist in practicing them, generalize them in the home environment, and provide positive reinforcement (Goyer, 2013).