Sasco River Center is a leader in multi-sensory therapeutic treatments for children and provides comprehensive evaluations including specialized handwriting and feeding/oral motor evaluations. Our evaluation and treatment programs are designed to help children achieve their fullest potential. We understand that each child is unique and requires individualized therapies, so we customize treatment plans from a range of well-respected sensory-integrative techniques and auditory programs. Our team of occupational therapists are dedicated to helping children improve self-awareness, self-confidence, and self-esteem through the medium of play that involves a rich and purposefully directed range of sensory experiences.
What is Sensory Processing?
Sensory Processing is the ability to take in information from our senses, organize it, and make an appropriate response. A child who experiences a disruption of one or several sensory pathways (e.g., sensory-integrative dysfunction, ADHD/ADD, learning disabilities, ASD) will have trouble adapting to environmental demands and maintaining an efficient level of arousal or attention. Sensory processing challenges can manifest in a myriad of ways: impacting behaviors, emotional regulation, social skills, motor coordination, and academic performance.
The brain is surprisingly “plastic” – meaning it can create new neural pathways with therapeutic intervention. In other words, a child who experiences sensory disruption can, through carefully designed activities, retrain his or her brain to process sensory information more effectively. This neurological theory serves as the foundation for all treatment strategies in our practice.
Our occupational therapy sessions utilize a bottom-up approach by strengthening and integrating the sensory systems in order to optimize higher level skills, promote regulation, and facilitate independence.
Does My Child Need OT?
Occupational Therapy (OT) is therapeutic intervention that is focused on areas of “occupation.” Many think of occupation as someone’s job, but at Sasco River Center, we define occupation as everyday activities. For adults, this can be a work, but can also be leisure or social activities as well as daily self-care. For our children, their daily occupations include school and academics, play, social interactions and their daily routines (eating, dressing, bathing). When sensory processing challenges contribute to a breakdown in one or several of these daily occupations, it can make life difficult and frustrating. Occupational therapy focuses on identifying areas in which a child cannot engage in their daily routines successfully and helps to improve or remediate these challenges.
“Occupational therapy helps children reach their fullest potential and feel more at ease in the world around them.”Sasco River Center OT Parent
Below are some characteristics that may indicate your child may benefit from OT services.
- Over- or under-reactions to stimuli such as touch, movement, sights, sounds and other sensations
- Quick changes in arousal levels and alertness (levels of energy)
- Picky Eating
- Limited attention span or difficulty concentrating
- Slow or difficult language processing
- Challenges with transitions
- Poor frustration tolerance or frequent emotional outbursts
- Inconsistent ability to follow directions
- Challenges with play or social skills
- Decreased balance and coordination (appears clumsy or uncoordinated)
- Difficulty expressing thoughts or ideas
- Decreased self-esteem or self-image
- Lack of confidence or skill with gross motor activities
- Difficulty with fine motor skills and school performance
- Messy or illegible handwriting
- Difficulty with reading or spelling
If your child displays one or more of the above mentioned characteristics please call the office for further consultation or to set up an occupational therapy evaluation.
OT Sensory Processing Testing
We recognize that each family begins this process with different questions and needs. Every child is unique and at Sasco River Center we provide individualized and high quality evaluations to all of our clients. Please contact us so one of our experienced staff members can help guide you through this process. They will help identify which evaluation is most appropriate for your child.
Our comprehensive evaluations are run by a senior occupational therapist with extensive experience working with and evaluating children.
This level of evaluation includes a variety of standardized assessments depending on your child’s age and maturity (under 3, preschool, school-aged or teen) as well as an all inclusive clinical evaluation in our state of the art gym facilities. The focus of this evaluation is to determine at what level sensory processing is impacting your child’s ability to engage in personal, social or educational settings, and develop a plan to address these challenges. This evaluation is strongly recommended for children who have never received an OT evaluation previously. It is also recommended for those who wish to receive an inclusive assessment that provides a in-depth analysis into their child’s sensory processing.
These evaluations are scheduled for 2 hours and include a parent feedback meeting, a full written report, and recommendations.
When parents are concerned that their child’s maturation is delayed across multiple functional areas, an evaluation by an interdisciplinary team of specialists (psychologist, speech and language therapist, and occupational therapist) is indicated to assess, clarify, and diagnose the issue. Sasco River Center offers this in-depth assessment with the goal of giving parents and schools a clear understanding of their child’s needs and a road map to address those needs. This is our most extensive evaluation which combines our occupational therapy sensory processing testing with neurospcyhology testing in order to uncover any areas of concern in your child’s development.
A screening is a brief assessment of your child’s sensory processing abilities from an occupational therapist. Screenings are recommended for children who have recently received an OT evaluation (within the last 12 months), are transitioning from another practice, or are currently receiving OT at school and would like additional information about their child and how sensory processing may be impacting academics/behavior.
Screenings are scheduled for 90 minutes and include a parent feedback meeting and an optional written report with recommendations.
Sasco River Center offers evaluations for adults. This assessment typically begins with an in-office consultation. After the consultation, our therapists will recommend an evaluation that meets your needs. This evaluation will include diagnostic clinical observations and standardized testing. Each type of evaluation provides a different level of service. Following your evaluation, a therapist will go over the results with you to develop a clearer picture of areas of concern as well as provide you with an action plan for the next steps.
Untreated sensory processing challenges can contribute to anxiety, social challenges or difficulties with executive functioning as adults. Many of our adult clients feel that their sensory processing challenges went unnoticed or were brushed off during their youth. At Sasco River Center, we believe it is never too late to address these sensory concerns and are committed to helping you feel more successful in the world around you.
Sensory-based Ot Sessions
Sasco River Center combines advanced sensory integration therapy with playful techniques, in a safe and familiar environment where the child feels confident and secure. Other techniques, such as listening therapy and/or reflex integration, are included on an as-needed basis to help address underlying issues more quickly.
We offer private occupational therapy sessions using sensory-integration techniques rich in vestibular, proprioceptive, and tactile inputs – areas where many children with neurological issues have deficits. Sensory integration techniques utilize play and other meaningful areas of occupation in order to motivate and challenge our clients. This approach encourages children’s nervous systems to process and integrate sensory input in an organized and meaningful way. As they begin to develop adaptive responses, this provides feedback to their nervous system promoting maturity and organization at increasingly higher levels. As a result children can better interact with – and adapt to – their environment. Sessions are always one-on-one with a treating therapist. Since Sasco River Center has three sensory gyms, your child will have the opportunity to work alongside other one-on-one sessions as appropriate allowing for socialization or work in a more individualized manner.
Therapy sessions can also be done with two children and one therapist ,appropriately matched, to add a new dimension to treatment and to help work on social skills. This is a great idea for children who excel in one-on-one situations but have a difficult time within a group setting. This is also beneficial for siblings who demonstrate similar challenges in order to help strengthen and improve family dynamics as well as sensory-processing skills. Typically, a semi-private session is considered after a child first has received individual therapy to address foundational-level skills.
Research has indicated that therapy can be strongly effective when delivered in “bursts” of treatment. Intensives are sessions designed to accomplish a goal in a shorter amount of time. Intensives are typically scheduled for 3-5 sessions a week for 1-2 hours a day. The amount and duration of your child’s sessions will be based on your therapist’s recommendation and individual treatment goals. These intensive services often start with an evaluation and a goal planning meeting in order to develop the most effective treatment plan.
Intensives are great to help with transitions (i.e., back to school), participation in group activities (dance class, drama club, social clubs), preparation for fall and team sports, and/or organization and attention concerns. They can also be helpful if your child is facing a new developmental challenge or large change in their lives. Intensives have also been helpful as an added “boost” to ongoing therapy.
Some of our clients travel from a distance to come to Sasco River Center for intensive therapy. In addition to your sessions and daily feedback, you will also receive a home program so that you can continue the progress upon your return home.
Telehealth and Remote Services
If you are too far away to take full advantage of our services on an on-going weekly basis, we also offer Telehealth Sessions. This unique platform allows our therapists to provide high quality therapy services remotely. Many of our therapists have experience in telehealth and can deliver quality treatment sessions over a video platform. You can collaborate with your therapist to develop a plan of care and frequency of treatment that is right for your child. Many clients have noted the positive benefits telehealth sessions have provided when they were unable to access our in-clinic services.
We can also provide consultative services. Our clinicians can act as a consultant to your local team, working together via technology platforms to create and carry out a cohesive plan of care.
Fine motor skills develop from intact bilateral coordination, core strength, and sensory processing abilities. For this reason, our handwriting sessions are not confined to a desk. Rather, we utilize our sensory gym, tactile mediums, and fine motor activities to improve handwriting skills from the ground up.
Our occupational therapists, trained in the “Handwriting Without Tears” program and other evidence-based curriculums, will work to develop a plan to best address your child’s specific needs.
In addition to private sessions, Sasco River Center offers handwriting camps. <Click here for more information.>
Feeding Therapy (picky Eating)
There are many reasons why a child can have difficulty with feeding. At Sasco River Center we look at the whole picture, taking in your child’s unique needs and strengths and your family routines and priorities to help develop a comprehensive approach to mealtime and eating.
What is Feeding Therapy?
Feeding and the act of eating is a developmental skill. From birth, children learn to develop emotions and routines surrounding mealtime. Some of the first bonds a child makes with their parents are during feeding. As children grow and begin to explore their world, they develop more meaningful and complex relationships with foods. During this phase, children begin to explore foods with their sensory systems (taste, touch, smell, sight, sound). Food begins to play a significant role in their daily habits and routines.
When a child has underlying sensory processing difficulties, visual or fine motor challenges, this relationship with food and mealtimes can become disrupted. They may begin to avoid foods, become upset or behavioral during mealtime and new patterns regarding foods can emerge. Feeding Therapy is an approach that helps to identify these challenging patterns or underlying sensory processing difficulties and help to remediate them making eating a positive and enjoyable experience. Sasco River Center Feeding Therapy is a sensory, oral motor and play-based approach to feeding that alleviates children’s anxiety surrounding foods while building strong foundational skills for success.
Does My Child Need Feeding Therapy?
The following are some signs your child might benefit from feeding therapy:
- “Picky Eater”, resistant to trying new foods
- Gagging or vomiting with foods present or during meals (not while eating)
- Limited diet
- Developmental history of feeding challenges (bottle/breastfed, purees to solids)
- Nutritional Challenges
- Failure to Thrive (FTT) or below growth curve
- Behaviors or emotions (anxiety, meltdowns) surrounding mealtime
- Doesn’t ask for food; not hungry often
- Craves certain foods/tastes/textures. Chooses these above all other foods/snacks
- Excessive drooling
- Pockets food or overstuffs while eating
- Difficulty identifying tastes/smells
- Overly concerned with how food “looks”
- Gagging or difficulty with tooth brushing
Mouthing of non-food objects and other oral motor seeking behaviors
NOTE: Eating and oral motor skills are very closely linked. Feeding therapy can be done by both an Occupational Therapist or a Speech and Language Pathologist. Most often feeding teams consist of both! If your child demonstrates any of the above challenges they are a good match for an OT based approach to feeding. However, if your child presents with any of the difficulties listed below, Sasco River Center strongly suggests that they receive a Speech and Language evaluation or consultation prior to collaborating with an OT regarding feeding therapy. This will help ensure a feeding approach that is not only comprehensive but safe for your child:
- Swallowing challenges including choking, or coughing when eating or drinking
- Dietary restrictions based on the thickness of liquids (i.e. can only eat purees or semi-solid foods)
- Young children who cannot synchronize suck-swallow-breath during bottle or breast feeding
- Children with a G-tube, N-G-Tube or other feeding tube who have not had prior exposure to feeding therapy or food eaten by mouth
How can Feeding Therapy Help?
Sasco River Center uses a combined feeding and sensory-based approach to calm and organize your child’s sensory system, making them more available to improving their eating and feeding skills. With the utilization of the Sequential Oral Motor and Sensory Approach (S.O.S) and other oral motor and feeding techniques, Sasco River Center can provide your child with a comprehensive feeding therapy plan. This plan will be specifically targeted toward their needs and the goals and priorities of your family. Therapy can be done 1:1 with our highly skilled feeding therapists or in small groups depending on your child’s needs.
If you feel your child may benefit from feeding therapy or have any questions regarding our oral motor and feeding therapy approaches please call the office.
Feeding Evaluations and Screenings
Sasco River Center also provides comprehensive feeding evaluations and screenings for both children and adults. Feeding evaluations are unique depending on the client’s specific needs. They can be completed independent of other evaluations (handwriting, sensory processing) or can be in conjunction. Feeding screenings are shorter in duration and are recommended for clients who have recieved oral motor or feeding therapy in the past, are under 2 years of age, or are transitioning from another therapy provider where feeding was addressed. As with all other Sasco River evaluation services, feeding screening and evaluations come with a post evaluation conversation and report.
Integrated Listening System
The Integrated Listening System (iLS) is a psychoacoustic therapeutic approach, developed by Dr. Ron Minson and based on the pioneering work of Dr. Alfred Tomatis, using the most advanced technology available.
The ability to listen and differentiate between sounds affects cortical stimulation and nerve pathways related to the following areas:
- Organization, modulation and attention
- Speech and language skills
- Cognitive development
- Learning and academics
- Movement, coordination and rhythm
- Creativity and personal growth
While iLS programs are available primarily in our clinic, we also can offer an iLS home program that integrates movement with music and that has four preset protocols.
We customize each iLS-based program to a child’s needs, and we support it with home programs, sensory diets and therapeutic services tailored specifically for each child. The result is auditory re-education, which can facilitate remarkable progress toward a child’s targeted functions.
Balanced nutrition can have a significant impact on a child’s overall psychological and physical health. Moreover, a healthy nutrition program has been shown by research to positively influence children’s self-esteem, energy, and ability to concentrate.
Sasco River Center offers individual nutrition advice, taking into account your child’s and your family’s needs. We can provide meal and snack ideas, shopping lists, healthy recipes, guidance on making healthful food choices, and suggestions for increasing physical activity. We also offer healthy shopping guidance trips and pantry makeovers.
Sasco River Center offers private or semi-private biking lessons led by an occupational therapist. Our clinicians are skilled at assessing balance and coordination, addressing sensory concerns, and teaching the techniques needed to help your child learn to ride a bike. Our biking curriculum centers around setting our kids up for success so that they feel empowered, not afraid. Let’s ride!
Bike camps are available during summer and school breaks. CLICK HERE to learn more about bike camp
Our gardening sessions are a great way for your child to experience multi-sensory input while learning about nature. Whether working on fine motor skills or tactile sensitivities, our occupational therapists will customize garden-based activities based on your child’s needs. Watch your child’s confidence grow as they observe their plant changing each week.
Summer At Sasco River
Occupational Therapy Intensives
Recent research indicates that therapy is most effective when delivered in “bursts” of treatment. Intensives are sessions designed to accomplish a goal in a shorter amount of time. Typically 3-5 times a week for 1-2 hours a day of occupational therapy based on your therapist’s recommendation and individual treatment goals. These intensive services often start with an evaluation and a goal planning meeting in order to develop the most effective treatment plan.
Intensives are great to help with transitions (i.e., back to school), participation in group activities, preparation for fall and team sports, and/or organization and attention concerns. They can also be helpful when your child is facing a new developmental challenge or whenever your family wishes to enhance or boost ongoing therapy. Many of our clients travel from a distance to come to Sasco River Center for intensive therapy. During your time with us, you will receive a home program so that you can continue the progress upon your return home.
Auditory/Occupational Therapy Intensives
This is a great introduction to our intensive listening services or as a boost for those who have already completed a listening program. By incorporating occupational therapy during the listening sessions we can truly integrate the whole body. We will work together as a team to design a customized program for your child based on their individual treatment goals.
This is especially useful for those who have trouble listening and attending in a multi-sensory environment, have trouble looking at you when speaking and/or participating in social/group situations.
OT Summer Camps & Programs
Get in touch today