They say that the sense of touch is the first to develop in the womb, and the last to leave us when we die. It's integral to our lives and necessary for optimal function. But finding comfort in our senses is not always easy for everyone.
3-year-old Taya loves to swing. But it's not just for fun, it's therapy. Taya was born with three major heart defects. She also suffers from DiGeorge syndrome. "She spent 4 months in the hospital," said Judy Delperdang. That put her behind in development. But sensory therapy is helping change that.
Occupational Therapist Erin Schroeder at Floyd Valley Hospital says it's important to stimulate Taya's sense of touch to help her feel comfortable in her own skin and function at her best. It's something we all do instinctively, by leaning on an object, playing with something or swaying. But it's different for kids like Taya. "They don't know exactly what they need, or how to get that. These kids, we have to break it down, and we have to, we call it a sensory diet. We actually have to feed them the appropriate sensory activity so that their brain will function optimally," said Erin Schroeder. Because if it doesn't, there can be a big break down. "Behavior issues, or you're seeing them seek out things in maladaptive ways; like they'll throw themselves on the floor and roll around, they'll hurt themselves," said Schroeder. "If she's real fidgety, can't sit down, can't focus, then we know it's time for her to do some type of sensory input," said Judy. For Taya, that means swinging, rolling in balls, and running her hands through dried food. "She likes to play with different types of items like beans, rice, anything that she can touch that gives her lots of input. For her it's what makes her feel good. There's something that's missing so she's seeking something to get a feeling that feels normal to her. So she seeks something that will give her the input that she needs," said Judy. And that may change over time. But for now, sensory therapy is helping Taya feel comfortable in her own skin.
Sensory therapy can also work for several other conditions, including Autism and Asbergers Syndrome. Therapist Erin Schroeder says watch for those behavior issues, and if you spot them and have trouble controlling them, talk to your doctor about sensory therapy.
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