Occupational Therapy

Our comprehensive Occupational Therapy (OT) for kids in Bellevue helps them succeed in the important areas of their lives, their "occupations of childhood." OTs address delays or concerns in the areas of fine and gross motor skills, cognitive skills, social development, and self-care that may be impacted by the following diagnoses:

  • Autism
  • Brain injuries
  • Genetic disorders
  • Seizure disorders
  • ADHD/learning disorders
  • Sensory processing disorders
  • Other developmental differences, disorders, or delays

Our innovative program aims to improve your child's ability to meaningfully engage in daily occupations. The occupations of childhood include:

  • Social Participation
  • Activities of Daily Living (including toileting, bathing, dressing, and eating)
  • Play
  • Education

OT works to build foundational skills. OTs do this by using specialized equipment and playful sensory-motor activities to provide the "just right" challenge for children as they develop skills through participation in their occupations.

Additionally, OT's frequently collaborate with developmental optometrists and vision therapists on cases that can be helped by OT's building a strong foundation for the body and sensory systems, which then serves to progress visual skills.

Sensory Processing

"Parents are the adults in the best position to know when their child has a sensory problem but, too often, their observations are discounted because they are "just the parents." If the family's health care provider isn't familiar with SPD, the clues that triggered the parents' alarm may be overlooked, misinterpreted, or dismissed. The parents may be scolded for over-reacting or they may be offered assurances that their child is "just a little delayed" or "going through a phase" or "showing his personality," or "just being a boy." The child may be misdiagnosed and even treated for another disorder that is already familiar to the doctor rather than for the real culprit: Sensory Processing Disorder. By the time I meet families through the STAR Institute, at our Treatment Center in Denver, or in one of the workshops I teach, the parents are often near despair because they have tried and failed to convince somebody that red flag symptoms exist and are disrupting their child's life in basic ways. . . . The parents are convinced that something isn't right but they are intimidated, frustrated, or downright discouraged because nobody believes them."
– from Sensational Kids: Hope and Help for Children With Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) by Lucy Jane Miller, PhD, OTR

Ten Fundamental Facts About SPD
When extended family, teachers, neighbors, other parents, and service providers ask you what Sensory Processing Disorder is, the following are research-supported statements you can make.

  1. Sensory Processing Disorder is a complex disorder of the brain that affects developing children and adults.
  2. Parent surveys, clinical assessments, and laboratory protocols exist to identify children with SPD.
  3. At least one in twenty people in the general population may be affected by SPD.
  4. In children who are gifted and those with ADHD, Autism, and fragile X syndrome, the prevalence of SPD is much higher than in the general population.
  5. Studies have found a significant difference between the physiology of children with SPD and children who are typically developing.
  6. Studies have found a significant difference between the physiology of children with SPD and children with ADHD.
  7. Sensory Processing Disorder has unique sensory symptoms that are not explained by other known disorders.
  8. Heredity may be one cause of the disorder.
  9. Laboratory studies suggest that the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems are not functioning typically in children with SPD.
  10. Preliminary research data support decades of anecdotal evidence that occupational therapy is an effective intervention for treating the symptoms of SPD.
– from Sensational Kids: Hope and Help for Children With Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD ) p. 249-250 by Lucy Jane Miller, PhD, OTR

The Eight Sensory Systems
Most people are surprised to find out that we actually have eight sensory systems rather than five. Learn more about these eight systems in detail.

  • Visual
  • Auditory
  • Tactile
  • Olfactory
  • Gustatory
  • Vestibular
  • Proprioception
  • Interoception

Pioneering occupational therapist, psychologist, and neuroscientist A. Jean Ayres, Ph.D., likened SPD to a neurological "traffic jam" that prevents certain parts of the brain from receiving the information needed to interpret sensory information correctly.Causes of SPD
The exact cause of Sensory Processing Disorder has not yet been identified. Preliminary studies and research suggest that SPD is often inherited. Prenatal and birth complications have also been implicated as causal in SPD, as well as certain environmental factors. A summary of research into the causes and prevalence of SPD is included in Sensational Kids: Hope and Help for Children With Sensory Processing Disorder (New York: Perigee, 2014, 2nd edition). written by Founder and current Executive Director of STAR Institute, Lucy Jane Miller Ph.D., OTR

Red Flags for SPD:
  • Over-sensitive to touch, noises, smells, other people
  • Difficulty making friends
  • Difficulty dressing, eating, sleeping, and/or toilet training
  • Clumsy; poor motor skills; weak
  • In constant motion; in everyone else's "face and space"
  • Frequent or long temper tantrums
  • Problems eating or sleeping
  • Refuses to go to anyone but their mom for comfort
  • Irritable when being dressed; uncomfortable in clothes
  • Rarely plays with toys
  • Resists cuddling, arches away when held
  • Cannot calm self
  • Floppy or stiff body, motor delays
  • Over-sensitive to touch, noise, smells, other people
  • Easily distracted, fidgety, craves movement; aggressive
  • Easily overwhelmed
  • Difficulty with handwriting or motor activities
  • Difficulty making friends
  • Unaware of pain and/or other people
  • Over-sensitive to touch, noise, smells, and other people
  • Poor self-esteem; afraid of failing at new tasks
  • Lethargic and slow
  • Always on the go; impulsive; distractible
  • Leaves tasks uncompleted
  • Clumsy, slow, poor motor skills or handwriting
  • Difficulty staying focused
  • Difficulty staying focused at work and in meetings
  • Unmotivated; never seems to get joy from life

We serve the Bellevue, Redmond, Seattle, Kirkland, Bothell, Issaquah, Snoqualmie, North Bend, Renton, Tukwila, Mercer Island communities.