Diplomate Certified CranioSacral Therapy Sensory Integration Certified Pediatrics Specialist Certified



Occupational Therapy for Children

Occupational Therapy for Children

We provide parents and professionals with an understanding of the skills that occupational therapy can assist children with, focusing particularly upon play, social, attention and academic skill development in the home, child care, kindergarten and school setting.

Occupational Therapy for Children


CranioSacral Therapy and Sensory Integration
Prove a Powerful Duo

One look at 3-year-old John Dewing and you know he has a lot on his mind. He doesn't share those thoughts in words just yet, but his sounds, gestures and facial expressions speak volumes.

This particular day he is lying on a treatment table at The Upledger Clinic. His big eyes, framed by long lashes, rarely break a gaze with CranioSacral Therapist Rebecca Flowers. John's mom Carol has put headphones on his ears, which deliver listening therapy that is helping to modulate communication between his left and right brain. A gentle, well-placed touch elicits a quick punch in the air, a squeal and a big, dimpled grin. John is clearly enjoying himself.

The CranioSacral Therapy and Sensory Integration Therapy John is receiving on a regular basis are breaking through barriers that once threatened to keep him on anti-seizure medication and functionally disabled for life.

Double Trouble

John was born with double brain hemispheres (two right and two left) along with a rare neurological condition called lissencephaly. Symptoms can include difficulty swallowing, failure to thrive, muscle spasms and seizures. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke classifies the condition as one that "most likely will not respond to treatment." Doctors treating John said that he would be on anti-seizure medication his entire life.

Searching for options to help their son, Carol and Jay Dewing followed the advice of their family massage therapist and turned to pediatric specialist Rebecca Flowers at The Upledger Clinic. Flowers is one of only a small number of therapists in the United States who is board-certified in CranioSacral Therapy, Sensory Integration and Pediatrics.

During John's first session, Rebecca focused largely on evaluating his deep thoracic fascia, thoracic dural tube, sternum, thoracic inlet, and the cranial base into the intracranial membrane system. "These are areas we work on a lot," she says. "In John's case, working a bit on the respiratory diaphragm and vagus nerve brought an immediate calming."

By the next visit she learned that an apparent constipation problem of John's had also been alleviated. "That kind of thing happens a lot," Rebecca says. Parents come in with their primary concerns and then these secondary issues resolve. "That's why we're taught not to focus on the symptoms; it can interfere with what we are looking for. We evaluate and treat what we find."
Through weekly sessions John continued to show improvements that were both subtle and profound: more receptive in play time, more control of his legs, rolling over on his own, more head and trunk control, greater ocular function, and a decrease in tongue-extension fixation.
For Carol and Jay, one of the greatest days came when John was finally weaned off all the anti-seizure drugs. "For 14 months it was like he was in a cloud," Carol says. "After all the medication got out of his body he never seized again."

Integrating Therapies Yields Dramatic Results

John's biggest physical obstacles continue to be in the area of motor control and planning. "He's very low tone," Rebecca says. "This condition (known as hyptonia) is one of the most challenging we deal with because it's very difficult for the individual to move against gravity."

This is where Sensory Integration has played a key role. "Children with neurological problems who are unable to move through the environment in the normal way often deal with vestibular issues," Rebecca says. "If they don't get it, the brain doesn't develop normally. So oftentimes they seek that input."

This has certainly proven to be true with John. Carol remembers the first time they put him in a baby swing to test this out. "We didn't think he could do it," she admits. "But he just held on and sat up straight. He absolutely loves motion. The more tactile the experience you give him, the more he thrives. He started to gain trunk control and it has really improved his coordination."

Sensory Integration (SI) has proven to be a helpful ajunct to CranioSacral Therapy (CST) in many ways. When John displayed a problem with torticollis, for example, Rebecca used CST to eliminate a torque in his membrane system. The resulting gains were supplemented by SI techniques used at home, which worked to further improve his eye-hand control and postural muscle tone.
After months of combining these therapies and seeing consistent results, the idea was born to create a Sensory Integration room at The Upledger Clinic.

Sensory Integration Room Delivers Playtime With a Purpose

"We talked to Rebecca about doing this kind of room for a long time," Carol says. "It seemed like it would be valuable for the clinic to have the space to help kids. I think it's something that's been missing in the community."

That's when the Dewings, with a matching donation from John's great-grandmother, seeded the funding for the creation of a Sensory Integration room. Designed and constructed under Rebecca's supervising eye, it includes an array of equipment that on the surface looks like the makings for a really great playground. But at a deeper lever it offers remarkable benefits toward a child's development.
A rock-climbing wall works muscles and develops balance. A glider swing filled with balls gives tactile and vestibular input. A platform swing builds standing and balancing skills while promoting bilateral integration and motor planning. A tire swing positioned vertically on the floor helps children learn how to balance on one foot, straddle, sit down and bounce. A basketball hoop brings in hand-eye coordination along with ocular control and bilateral integration of the brain. A zip line gives kids proprioceptive and vestibular input as they push off with their feet. The list goes on and on.
"All the equipment is geared to developing the neurological skills nevessary to perform everyday functions. Things like buttoning buttons, tying shoes, zipping zippers, riding bikes, handwriting and eating," Rebecca says. "For John we're hoping to increase the neural connections between his vestibular machanism, cerebellum and cortex to improve his motor planning and postural background tone so that he'll be able to crawl, walk, feed himself, chew and speak."

An Integrative Solution to a Common Problem

"I'd say that more than 80% of the children I see have a problem integrating what the senses bring in to the brain, and knowing how to respond appropriately," Rebecca says. "Yet so many children are not getting and Sensory Integration Therapy because therapists may believe it's only for cases involving learning disabilities, autism, attention deficit and those types of conditions.
"We need to look at each child individually, no matter what the diagnosis, to determine how he or she is processing and integrating information, and where any difficulties may lie. It is my belief from experience that putting CranioSacral Therapy and Sensory Integration together exponentially increases the potential for results."

This has certainly been true for John Dewing. Ask Carol the differences she's seeing in her son and her face lights up. "He's sitting beautifully. He's standing (with the help of a standing device). He's starting to take steps with us holding his hands. He's pulling up."
"And he's vocalizing a lot, especially when he's angry!" she adds with a laugh. "He starts stringing all these sounds together and then just looks at you. His favorite words are 'all done' and 'no'," she states with a mother's certainty.
John Dewing definitely has a lot on his mind. And it seems that every day is opening up a new capability for him to express those thoughts.

The Upledger Clinic offers a range of complemetary approaches and intensive therapy programs. For an individual appointment or to reserve space in a one or two-week Intensive Program, call the Clinic at (561) 622-4706. To learn more about CranioSacral Therapy, please visit our website at www.upledger.com.


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