Neurological Approaches

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Sensory Integration Protocol

Sensory integration is the brain’s ability to organize incoming sensory information to enable us to make decisions about how to respond to our world. Sensory integration is a complex neurological process, which allows us to make our experiences meaningful and respond to our environment effectively.

The seemingly simplest movements are in fact complex symphonies orchestrated by our brain’s capacity for sensory integration. For example, imagine Jake wants to throw a ball to his friend. In order for Jake to successfully throw the ball he must have good body awareness, or sense of self in space. Where are my body parts, in which position and how do they relate to each other? Having good body awareness will allow Jake to know the position of his muscles and joints, gage appropriately with how much force to throw the ball and make the correct sequence of movements in order to throw the ball to his friend. Jake must also be aware of his center of gravity to be able to shift his weight and adjust his posture accordingly when throwing the ball without loosing balance. A clear sense of self combined with the earth’s pull of gravity on his muscles and joints will provide him with a clear reference point from which to make an accurate throw.

Without these senses or without them being integrated with Jake’s vision and sense of balance he will not be able to participate in games other children his age find easy and fun. He might throw the ball in the wrong direction, use too much or too little force, use very clumsy and awkward movement patterns, he might fatigue very quickly and the entire process might just seem too frustrating. Most likely he will not be motivated to engage in these activities.

Numerous methods have been developed to help children who are identified as having sensory integration challenges. A child’s behavior is seen as a reflection of a child’s central nervous system and the way processes sensory information is processed. The goal of sensory integration therapy is not to focus on a specific skill but to look at the underlying sensory processing differences that hinder the child’s performance on daily basis. Therapists (usually Occupational Therapists) can help the child organize the way the nervous system works by providing specific types of sensory input.

Also see:
A Different Brain


HANDLE

HANDLE stands for Holistic Approach to NeuroDevelopmental Learning Efficiency. HANDLE observes how a child participates in the world to draw conclusions about the functioning of fundamental neurological systems like the visual, auditory, vestibular and proprioceptive systems.

HANDLE takes advantage of the brains ability to continuously change thoughout life. It provides easy exercises and activities designed to retrain and enhance effected neurological systems. Many challenge of learning and social interaction for childen with autism may be caused by imbalances in basic neurological systems.

For example, if a child’s eyes do not easily focus together then she may see double. This might explain why she avoids making eye contact with people – because she sees two faces looking back at her and it’s confusing. A child who’s proprioceptive system is imbalanced may not have a clear sense of where his body is in space. It would be very hard to concentrate on any activity if you couldn’t sense where your limbs are. This child might find it easier to concentrate if he spends time moving around a room and crashing into objects because this gives his brain a lot of information about where his body is in space.

HANDLE exercises are designed to retrain these fundamental systems through gentle, repeated neurological stimulation. Find a practitioner…


Neurofeedback

The rate of ossilation of our brain waves determines our state of awareness. Certain frequencies of brain waves are perfect for attending and learning, others are for relaxing or sleeping. Neurofeedback can train the brain to spend more time in the states we want.

It works by attaching electrodes to the scalp. This is painless and non-invasive. The electrodes read the brainwaves and feed this information into a computer. The brainwaves are then represented in some way on the screen. For children then bainwaves are often represented as a game like Pacman. When the child’s brainwaves are in the optimal state the Pacman moves and makes fun sounds, when the child’s brain waves change the Pacman slows or stops. Because the child wants to see the game moving he learns to keep his brain waves in the targeted state.
Find a practitioner…


Auditory Training Protocols

There are numerous different methods of auditory training program. These are all designed to normalize the way the brain processes sound (auditory input). Auditory Integration Training and the Tomatis Method are usually delivered in a center by practitioners for a specified amount of time. The practitioner will then usually provides activities for use at home after the intensive treatment. The Listening Program is designed to be used at home under the guidance of a trained provider. Fast ForWord is a computer game designed to help children be able to process human speech more efficiently.


Also see:
Social-Educational Approaches to Autism
Bio-medical Approaches to Autism
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