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Practical, User Friendly Information on Sensory Motor Processing - March 2008

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Practical, "User Friendly" Information on Sensory Motor Processing

By: Catherine Chemin Schneider

Sensory Integration Dysfunction is becoming Sensory Processing Disorder as Dr. Lucy Miller works to include SPD in the DSM manual for the year 2011. This will be nothing short of a miracle and I invite you to stand behind her as she does the research needed to accomplish this amazing task. Her web site is

Professionals can sign up to be in the treatment directory to help spread the word on where help is available throughout the U.S. Dr. Miller's book Sensational Kids Hope and Help for Children with Sensory Processing Disorder is a wonderful reference for clinicians and parents alike.

I've worked with children for over 35 years as a registered occupational therapist and have also conducted seminars/workshops throughout this time. The main emphasis in training includes sharing that which the children have taught me. I've learned a tremendous amount from them, especially from children with Autism, who lead me to create the Foundational Skills Inventory.

When we (as experienced clinicians) have formulated goals involving the organization of information, better known as sensory integration, the goals might be too difficult for children who are not detecting and/or using information to accomplish directed activity. The Foundational Skills Inventory (done by someone who already knows a child) is a specific tool that allows me to quickly learn a multitude of facts regarding any child that I may be meeting for the first time. Also, it is the first tool that presents subliminal information to anyone involved in the process of helping a child to realize that we are a "team" brainstorming and assisting with the expertise (that we each have to help each other) to help any child to be their best.

The Foundational Skills Inventory assists in identifying and describing each child's particular foundation for learning with identification of possible challenges that might be related to academic performance. As you can tell, it is a tool that has been very efficient and powerful in my work and I am excited to share it with you!

The directions for use are included on the back of each legal size sheet with a dotted line to fold the document to make it fit nicely into any file folder. They include instruction to:
  • Start at the bottom of the page
  • Circle statements that are true
  • Darken out what is not true
  • If in doubt about an item, skip it
  • View the foundation for learning
  • Create goals and sensory diets that take sensory development into consideration

The color of the document is very important as I have experimented with a variety of combinations and have found that the shading and white/blue contrast add to motivation to complete the inventory.

A summary of the seven levels of the Inventory includes:
  • Level 1, Ability to Detect and Take In Information
  • Level 2, Ability to Use Information from the Senses
  • Level 3, Ability to Organize and Process Information
  • Level 4, Skills Needed to Help with Higher Learning
  • Level 4, Social Skills
  • Level 6, Skills for Tasks
  • Level 7, Complex Tasks with Appropriate Behavior and "People" Skills
The goal is to develop a type of "picture" of a child's foundation for learning. The ideal would be to have many statements blackened out. This would represent steps to the top of the page where academics would start. If a child has too many circles (representing holes) it will be easy for them to fail since the foundation is not solid. The experienced clinician will turn problematic statements into goals (for therapeutic intervention) and/or activities for sensory diets.

The course, Bridging the Gap, Theory and Practical Strategies to "Jump-Start" Learning in Children with Sensory Dysfunction through Cross Country Education discusses the use of The Foundational Skills Inventory, along with an actual inventory in order to understand it's use. Of course the actual ability to use it to the fullest will depend on your experience with sensory integration, but at the very least it will give a "picture" of areas that may need assistance and will create a starting point for families that know there is something amiss but cannot put their finger on what that might be.

If you would like more information, the book Sensory Secrets, How to "Jump-Start" Learning in Children is the book that parallels the information in the Bridging the Gap workshop and it contains the actual inventory on the back cover. If you would like additional information on ordering the inventory (50 sheets to a tablet at $15.95 + shipping/handling/taxes), it is available from the publisher, The Concerned Group, Inc at 1-800-447-4332.

I wish you continued success as you inform the public about sensory integration/sensory processing and its intricate involvement with every form of communication.

This Month's Featured Vendor: Sensory Secrets, Inc.

Special Thanks to Catherine Chemin Schneider, for providing an article for this issue's Therapy Corner.

Catherine Chemin Schneider, OTR, is a Registered/Certified Occupational Therapist with over 35 years experience. She received her Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan and is a Dale Carnegie Graduate.

Ms. Schneider is the CEO and founder of The Positive Difference, LLC, a company committed to making a positive difference in your perception of any situation in which you may find yourself. Ms. Schneider has worked in clinical settings, extensively in schools, is a business, educational and personal consultant and has done numerous local and national seminars. She is the author of Sensory Secrets: How to Jump-Start Learning in Children, which has information that parallels her sensory workshops. She, along with Carol Poltorak, has written the adult sequel to Sensory Secrets which is currently under publication.

Ms. Schneider's experience, emphasis on practical application of the information presented and energetic speaking style (sprinkled with humor) delights audiences throughout the United States.

Please support our contributing authors and visit Sensory Secrets

Tags: March 2008 Sensory Motor Skills - Sensory Integration Newsletter OT Autism Sensory Processing Disorder Article