Sensory Motor Based Physical Therapy

Sensory Motor Based Physical Therapy differs from traditional pediatric PT because of its integrated emphasis on Sensory Integration, neuroplasticity and postural control in development. If your child has not shown positive outcomes in traditional therapy, school based therapy or has begun to behave differently, there may be underlying signs of neuromotor immaturity or an undetected sensory issue. An understanding of the neurological underpinnings in a child’s development is critical for moving these children out of the range of disability.  Sensory disorders are commonly associated with many generic disorders but often show themselves in quirky ways that most of us would not think twice of. If your child is demonstrating any of the following behaviors, feel free to call or email us so we can discuss how specialized sensory therapy can help.

Developmental Red Flags

Infants and toddlers (1 to 36 months)

  • Does not follow objects with eyes.
  • Does not respond to loud sounds.
  • Easily startled by loud noises (door bell, fireworks, thunder, vacuum and background noises) or covers ears.
  • Irritated by certain clothing (texture or the restrictions of the clothing)
  • Low muscle tone (body feels loose or floppy).
  • Unable to hold head up.
  • Poor sleeping patterns.
  • Excessive drooling.
  • Difficulty bearing weight through arms or legs. Unable to bear weight in standing or quadruped (all fours)
  • Startles easily.
  • Dislikes tummy time.
  • Regression of skills once attained.
  • Stiff arms and/or legs (body feels tight).
  • Does not turn his/her head to one side.
  • Unable to sit without support.
  • Unable to be calmed.
  • Prefers to play with objects rather than interact with people.
  • Doesn’t like to have their face or hair washed.
  • Cannot pull to stand or cruise around furniture.
  • Does not reach for their legs.
  • Cannot roll to back or belly.
  • Tilts his/her head to one side.
  • Arms stay out to the sides. 
  • Does not creep or crawl.

Preschool (3 to 5 years old)

Includes the above red flags in early development and not limited to the following:

  • Clumsy and poor motor skills.
  • Difficulties making friends.
  • Sensitive to certain lights.
  • Unable to modulate his/her voice. Speaks too loud or too soft.
  • Easily startled by loud noises (door bell, fireworks, thunder, vacuum and background noises) or covers ears.
  • Easily aroused following certain movements such as spinning.
  • Doesn’t follow verbal cues yet does not present with hearing problems.
  • Repeatedly asks for you to repeat what was said.
  • In constant motion. Unaware of personal space.
  • Motion sickness, nausea from swinging/spinning.
  • Limited repertoire of play preferences.
  • Decreased endurance/ fatigues easily.
  • Long temper tantrums.
  • Decreased body awareness, falls often, bumps into people or things.
  • Fearful when feet lose contact with the ground, on swings, or when the head is positioned in different directions.
  • Avoids cuddling, bathing, dental visits, or haircuts.
  • Over sensitive to touch, noises, smells, or other people.
  • Has meltdown in crowded or over stimulating environments such as during birthday parties, amusements parks, playgrounds, etc.
  • Cannot kick or throw a ball.
  • Cannot jump in place or jump forward.
  • Cannot skip or hop. 
  • Delayed motor skills compared to peers.
  • Cannot walk on stairs without support.
  • Picky eater.
  • Walks on tiptoes.
  • Uses excessive or too little force.
  • Avoids playground structures, such as swings and slides.
  • Decreased language skills, communicating and/or, minimal eye contact.
  • Easily distractible.
  • Doesn’t perceive pain after injury or fall.
  • Wakes up in the night.
  • Cannot ride a tricycle or bike.

School age (6 to 12 years old)

Includes the above red flags in early development and not limited to the following:

  • Easily distracted.
  • Impulsive and cannot sit for prolonged periods of time.
  • Decreased confidence and participation in sports.
  • Cannot follow multi-step commands.
  • Obsessive tendencies and unable to change tasks.
  • Poor posture, slumps while sitting at desk.
  • Over sensitive to touch, noises, smells, and other people.
  • Takes a long time to get dressed.
  • Unorganized and messy.
  • Low muscle tone.
  • Delayed handwriting skills and messy handwriting.
  • Increased pressure when coloring or writing. Easily breaks crayons and pencils.
  • Blinks often or looks away from the paper when doing homework.
  • Unaware of pain or other people. Poor safety awareness, risk taker, does not look when walking on the stairs.
  • Avoids or seeks movement.

Adolescents (13 years and older)

Includes the above red flags in early development and not limited to the following:

  • Over sensitive to touch, noise, smells, and other people.
  • Poor self-esteem, afraid of failure and wont try new tasks.
  • Decreased energy, sluggish, and slow.
  • Frequent injuries.
  • Always on the go, impulsive and highly distractible.
  • Does not complete things.
  • Poor motor skills, clumsy, messy handwriting.
  • Depressed or unmotivated.
  • Decreased social life and participation in age appropriate sports.
  • Over-weight, sedentary lifestyle.

If your child suffers from three or more symptoms in any the above categories please call Sensory Jim to schedule an evaluation at 929.33.KIDPT (335.4378).

Having concerns about your child? Schedule an Evaluation