SENSORY WORKOUT PROGRAM - SWP

The Sensory Workout Program is a culmination of Amee Cohen’s 25 years working with children

FOR CHILDREN WITH DISRUPTIONS IN THEIR LIFE SKILLS

For the purpose of this Sensory Workout Program, delays in function will be known as disruptions.

 

We call delays “disruptions” because the behaviors and sensory components associated with the delay in the skills acquisitions disrupts the progress of functional learning to take place and over time skills are delayed causing disruptions in life skills. The disruption is also a term that explains a possible root cause of the maladaptive or delayed learning of life skills and function.

 

The children and adult populations that we have been working closely with have had a variety of diagnosis such as autism, ASD, TBI, developmental delay and a variety of neurodevelopmental diagnosis. The foundation and basis for the SWP has been a direct outcome and a natural progression from the close work we have performed with our clients

 

The SWP approach focuses on the neural pathways, the pathways along which information travels through the neurons of the brain and specifically strengthening the specific neural pathways needed for skill acquisition. This program can make a difference for all persons affected by a disruption, delay and even just strengthening the neural pathways in current use.

 

Without a doubt, the dedication of caregivers and persistence to use the program guidelines will be a critical component to effectiveness. This program is not intended to replace any of the ongoing therapies or biomed treatments currently used, it is a critical component for a concentrated positive effect in the entire healing process of a person’s disruption in function.

DISRUPTION IN DEVELOPMENT

Our work has always been oriented to the treatment and analysis of the components affecting each person disruption in skill development. It is true we think of very basic skills when discussing self-care, functional activities as eating, dressing, bathing and at the minimum maintaining eye contact, although we need these skills to start our journey of functional independence, we are discussing neural pathways that are strengthened over time and as a result causing mild to severe disruptions. Maladapted skills that are strengthened or delayed over time, cause a disruption or disturbance in higher functioning life skills, even our current patients in high school and college, benefit from the program as they dedicate their time to completing advanced educational goals.

 

As parents, caregivers, family members and friends of persons with disrupted life skill acquisition, we know that associated with these effects are sensory processing concerns, often cognitive delays, social and physical delays that contribute to the delay in development of life skills.

 

There are suggested biomed components related to a variety of food and environmental allergies and intolerances that may have a significant impact in the developmental process. There are also persons that have suffered trauma/disease that have caused the disruption to occur affecting the ability to progressively learn or relearn life skills.

 

We witness and live our lives teaching and caring for those we love having disruptions from any of the etiologies suggested and yet we continue to spend our time and energy following the traditional routes and pathways to acquire the skills.

IT CAN BE CHANGED

The Sensory Workout Program has its foundation in the brain’s ability to change and adapt as a result of experiences that are strengthened over time with repetition and practice.

 

Over time the brain may develop and strengthen neural pathways that are maladaptive for functional use, yet, adaptive for calming and avoiding non preferred experiences, as in avoiding, calming behaviors including but not exclusive of; hand flapping, throwing objects, hitting, decreased eye contact, rushing through tasks and even self-sabotaging by overeating and excessive sleeping.

 

No doubt the brain’s ability to form increased pathways through neuroplasticity strengthens these behaviors, disruptions in functional skill acquisition occurs.

 

The program using a variety of graded and specific targeted exercise to strengthen the neural areas underlying skill acquisition taps into the ability of a person to focus and acquire new skills and behaviors through neuroplasticity, sensorimotor activities and use of multisensory approaches is the key to success.

 

The premise of The Sensory Workout Program was founded to assist with learning, re-learning, and the acquisition of new skills through the use of specific exercises tapping into the brain’s ability for neuroplastic changes. Repetitive and multisensory exercises allow the opening up of the neural pathways then strengthening the pathways for the acquiring of the skills intended. Hence the root, disruption of pathways.

 

The exercises begin with shadowing/mirroring the facilitator. The facilitator (leader) begins with the one step repetitive sensorimotor activity that continues to build and increases in complexity at the rate of the neural pathway acquisition for that specific sequence. There are a variety of skills that the facilitator will use in order to build attention and follow through, however, each program and sequence is calibrated and performed for the strengthening of the base neuroplasticity to occur.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Today, it is understood that the brain possesses the remarkable capacity to reorganize pathways, create new connections and in some cases, even create new neurons. The brain has the ability to change and new learning occurs when it receives focused and specific repetitive input. Cortical remapping is a term that refers to the brain’s ability to change and adapt as a result of experience.

 

As we discussed above in the preliminary layout and history of the program development, neural pathways and subsequent behaviors/skills strengthen as a result of repetitive use of each pathway this is neuroplasticity. Learning occurs and pathways not used are pruned, weakened and eventually disappear or are disrupted. Maladaptive and nonfunctional behaviors replace once functional (or never acquired) skills.

 

The sensorimotor, sensory and functional activities are specifically created to activate the neural pathways underlying the brain’s capacity to execute the intended skills. The sensorimotor gross and fine motor skills are paired and calibrated to assist with the learning of skills specific to the brain’s left/right and global mapping.

 

It is recommended these exercises be performed 2x per day. There are suggested sensory programs used prior to each session to assist with activation of the brain pathways. Following the recommended sequence /level program of the session there are follow-up exercises with the fine motor, self-care or gross motor program to continue the activation and neuroplastic training for skill acquisition.

THERAPY AS A DAILY ROUTINE

The Sensory Workout Program does take time and effort on the part of the facilitator, however, there is flexibility of the program to be broken down into more frequent shorter sessions throughout the day and can be used by a host of facilitators, disciplines and family members. The process is extremely accessible without the need for scheduling time consuming appointments, extra financial resources and burdens often associated with the limited resources, time which we are all struggling with as we keep up with our daily responsibilities.

 

The Sensory Workout Program is a well-developed program that can ease the mind of all caregivers as it is scientifically based, therapeutically based, functionally and caregiver based.

 

Therapeutic process can take years if not longer to achieve the functional results and this very affordable program brings together a therapeutic process that can be part of your family’s routine while assisting in the development of life skills.

ABOUT BRAIN PLASTICITY

The human brain is composed of approximately 100 billion neurons. Early researchers believed that neurogenesis, or the creation of new neurons, stopped shortly after birth. Today, it is understood that the brain possesses the remarkable capacity to reorganize pathways, create new connections and in some cases, even create new neurons.

 

There are four key facts about neuroplasticity, also known as brain plasticity:

– It can vary by age; while plasticity occurs throughout the lifetime, certain types of changes are more predominant during specific life ages.
– It involves a variety of processes; plasticity is ongoing throughout life and involves brain cells other than neurons, including glial and vascular cells.
– It can happen for two different reasons; as a result of learning, experience and memory formation, or as a result of damage to the brain.
– Environment plays an essential role in the process, but genetics can also have an influence.

 

The first few years of a child’s life are a time of rapid brain growth. At birth, every neuron in the cerebral cortex has an estimated 2,500 synapses; by age of three, this number has grown to a whopping 15,000 synapses per neuron.

 

The average adult, however, has about half that number of synapses. Why? Because as we gain new experiences, some connections are strengthened while others are eliminated. This process is known as synaptic pruning. Neurons that are used frequently develop stronger connections, and those that are rarely or never used eventually die. By developing new connections and pruning away weak ones, the brain is able to adapt to the changing environment.

 

Experience, repetition, and focus drive our brain’s ability to acquire skills. Repetition and practice changes the nerve cells, or neurons, in our brains, so that we can master most of the experiences we put through. We call this brain plasticity, or neuroplasticity. I feel this is the key to treating learning problems.

TYPES OF BRAIN PLASTICITY

Functional Plasticity: Refers to the brain’s ability to move functions from a damaged area of the brain to other undamaged areas.

 

Structural Plasticity: Refers to the brain’s ability to actually change its physical structure as a result of learning.

 

Brain plasticity, also known as neuroplasticity or cortical remapping, is a term that refers to the brain’s ability to change and adapt as a result of experience. Up until the 1960s, researchers believed that changes in the brain could only take place during infancy and childhood. By early adulthood, it was believed that the brain’s physical structure was permanent.

 

Modern studies has demonstrated that the brain continues to create new neural pathways and alter existing ones in order to adapt to new experiences, learn new information, and create new memories.

 

Through our practice and research, we have not come across any substantial evidence that persons with ASDs, neuromuscular diseases, sensorimotor, and learning disabilities cannot achieve brain plasticity. In fact, our experience tells us, the brain does change and new learning occurs with the focused and specific repetitive input needed for change.

BRAIN ACTIVATION EXERCISES

The foundation of growth, development, and learning in a child starts with sensory and motor interaction with the world. The brain is built from the bottom up and this starts with movement and sensory exploration.

 

Sensory stimulation and feedback drive the brain, but the motor system drives sensory stimulation—you can’t have one without the other. Through the use of sensory motor activities integrated with the auditory sensory system, tactile, proprioceptive, and kinesthetic awareness tasks, neuroplasticity and increased focus and learning can take place.