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Sensational Summer Camps @ IS

Sensational Summer Camps at Integration Station provide children with the opportunity to learn through fun, multi-sensory experiences under the guidance of pediatric occupational therapy practitioners.

 Through the use of the Handwriting Without Tears® curriculum, children will enhance letter recognition, letter formation, and improve fine motor abilities to support successful writing.

 Our camps are designed for Rising Kindergarteners, First and Second graders who are struggling with handwriting or just need that extra boost to set them soaring from A to Z.

Learning Letters the “Write” Way-  July 21st -August 1st

Children will learn to form their uppercase letters and their name. Recommended for most 4-5 year olds.


Diving into Lowercase Letters-  August 4th-August 15th

Children will review accurate formation for uppercase letters, learn to form lowercase letters and properly form their name. Recommended for most 6-7 year olds.


Cost: $225 for 2 weeks including supplies

Monday-Friday, 1:00 pm- 2:30 pm

A $50 non-refundable deposit is required at registration.  All fees are due prior to the first date of class.


Calming Strategies for Children over the Holidays

Control and Choices can promote calmness in a changing environment i.e. allowing your child to help rearrange furniture to place the Christmas tree, pick out holiday decorations, and holiday songs.

Decrease sensory information.  Flashing lights maybe to over-stimulating for your child.  White lights are a less distracting alternative.

Quiet spots and breaks can help your child calm when visiting friends and family or when family visits.   After your child has had a break, encourage your child to rejoin with friends and family.  Include pillows, fidget toys, and books in the quiet spot and practice going to the quiet spot to ensure the child this is a safe place.

Develop a plan. Providing predictability and preparing for the holiday changes prior to the event can be helpful! Going over the schedule for the following day at nighttime can add structure to the holidays.  Simple, practiced plans are the best plans!

Routines are important to maintain over the holidays.

Environment: When decorating for the holidays try to respect the child’s favorite space or toy and see if the Christmas decorations impede their view of their favorite space or toy.

Sleep: Changes in routine can affect sleep patterns.  Try to maintain sleep schedules over the busy holidays.

Food Routines: Incorporate familiar foods with holiday meals.



Calming Strategies for Small Spaces

With the temperature changing, the sun setting earlier, and holidays around the corner, many of us begin to experience increased stress and fatigue. Implementing quick and simple strategies for calming and alerting will help us make it through the day successfully. Here are just a few quick tips for you and your little ones!

-Try making a fist and squeezing tightly several times.

-Push your hands (palms facing one another) together.

-Push your knees together while sitting.

-Shrug your shoulders (raise them up and down) several times.

-Push against a wall.

-Chair push-ups (Use your arms to lift your bottom from your chair.)

-Take a deep breath and count down from 10 .

-Use deep pressure for calming (hugs, wrapping in a blanket).

-Use quick, brisk, touch to arms and back for alerting.

-Adults and older children can use sugar-free chewing gum (monitor your child for safety).


October is Sensory Awareness Month!

Spread the Word about Sensory Processing Disorder!

Sensory Integration, is a term that refers to the way the nervous system receives messages from the senses and turns them into appropriate motor and behavioral responses. Whether you are riding a bike, eating an apple, spending time outside, or reading a book, the activity requires successful processing of sensation or “Sensory Integration.”

Sensory Processing Disorder is a complex neurological disorder that impacts a growing number of individuals. When sensations are not registered, processed or interpreted with accuracy, the response may not be appropriate for the situation/event. For example; an individual places their hand on a hot burner and leaves it there for several seconds before realizing their hand is hot, due to poor sensory integration they incur a severe burn to the hand.

There are several indicators that an individual may be struggling with Sensory Processing Disorder, and if you feel you or your child may be impacted by difficulties with Sensory Integration consult with a sensory-trained Occupational Therapist.


BACKPACK AWARENESS DAY-September 18th, 2013

Did you know… A backpack should not exceed 10% of a child’s weight. (50 lb child = 5 lb backpack limit)

Why does the weight of the backpack matter… According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were over 28,000 backpack related injuries in 2010.  Injuries ranged from contusions, sprains and strains, to dislocations and fractures.

Does your child experience tingling arms, decreased muscle strength, or stooped posture after wearing a heavy backpack? Take steps to help your child load and wear a backpack properly to avoid related injuries.

Proper Loading of a Backpack

  • Pack heaviest items closest to the child’s back.
  • Make sure to only pack essential items for the school day.
  • To avoid clutter and decrease weight, empty your child’s backpack each day.
  • If your child’s backpack is too heavy, he or she can remove an item and carry it in their arms.
  • Alternatives: Use a backpack with wheels.
  • Duplicate items, i.e. Ask your child’s school if extra copies of workbooks and textbooks for use at home are available.

 Wearing a Backpack

  • It is highly recommended that your child wear both arm straps pulled tight.
  • Backpacks with waist straps should also be secured.
  • The backpack should not sit below waist level.



What’s For Lunch?? Sensory Regulation through Food

Eating crunchy foods, chewy foods, or resistive sucking can help satisfy a child’s sensory needs. Help your child stay organized throughout their day with these snack and lunch ideas!

 Crunchy (alerting):

  • Celery sticks
  • Carrot sticks
  • Apple slices
  • Banana chips
  • Dry Cereals
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Granola
  • Pretzel rods
  • Popcorn
  • Crackers
  • Cheese straws

*Frozen novelties, sour, bitter and spicy foods are also alerting.


Sucking (calming):

  • Thick smoothies and milkshakes through a straw
  • Juice boxes with thin straw
  • Peanut butter or Sun-butter from a spoon
  • Applesauce through a straw
  • Yogurt through a straw
  • Sugar-free, all-natural lollipops
  • Use a thin or curly straws to drink


Chewy (organizing):

  • Granola bars
  • Fruit Leather
  • Gummies
  • Fruit Snacks
  • Licorice
  • Taffy
  • Bagels
  • Beef Jerky
  • Dried fruits: raisins, cranberries cherries, apricots

Tips For Successful Morning Routines

– Set a consistent wake up time.

– Stagger wake up times in multi-children households. This allows children to receive one on one time and provides an organized morning routine.

– A morning hug/cuddle is a great way to promote positive mood and behavior upon waking up.

– Start your day with a cheerful morning greeting.

– Encourage independence in your child’s morning routine by providing them with a visual checklist.

– Load backpacks and layout clothing at bedtime.

– And remember, if a morning routine is fun, your child will be motivated to participate!



Announcing the Opening of Our New Clinic

Integration Station is excited to announce the opening of their new clinic in the North Charlotte area!! The clinic affords opportunities for children to develop and refine skills in a motivating play setting. We have multiple treatment areas outfitted with suspended equipment, an indoor climbing structure that includes a ramp, slide, ladders, rock wall and ball pit, and cozy corners. The clinic allows children to maximize their potential in a safe and supportive environment.

We are conveniently located near I77 and I85 off W.T. Harris Boulevard.  Integration Station welcomes infants, preschoolers, and school-aged children.



Sensory Processing Disorder Debated

To have sensory processing disorder, experts say there must be a significant effect on daily routine

By Amanda Chan / Charlotte Observer July 19, 2010 / McClatchy Newspapers

Sources: Lucy J. Miller, Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation; Nicole Cyphert, Integration Station; Toni Schulken, Pathways for Learning.

It’s unbearable to wear clothing with tags. It’s impossible to use scissors, no matter how many times you try. All mushy or soft foods are unbearable — not because of the flavor, but the consistency.

Depending on whom you ask, it’s either common childhood behavior, a neurological disorder that requires intervention or something in between. It is called sensory processing disorder, and it occurs, advocates say, when the brain cannot properly process incoming signals for an appropriate response.

Sensory research is still young; prominent California occupational therapist and psychologist A. Jean Ayres began studying sensory integration problems only in the 1960s. Many skeptics scoff at the notion of such a disorder and say the root of the problem has more to do with bad behavior or neurological immaturity.

But families who live with it and the occupational therapists who treat children with the issue say there’s no doubt it exists.

To have sensory processing disorder, experts say there must be a significant effect on daily routine. The disorder is usually found in children, though adults can have it, too.

“Everything’s coming in and getting messed up for them,” said Heidi Tringali, a Charlotte, N.C., occupational therapist who sees a lot of children with sensory issues. “It tastes too strong, smells too strong. They’re just disrupted — and their existence is so much more difficult than just a typical developing child.”

There have been few published studies on the prevalence of SPD. But one study done in association with the Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation estimates that one in six children is affected by sensory issues, which can range from mild to severe. However, SPD has not yet been officially recognized by the American Psychiatric Association.

— — —

It’s important to note the differences between a child with sensory processing disorder and a child who’s just picky or problematic, experts say. For example, a typical child who steps from an air-conditioned room outside into the heat may whine and complain for a bit. But for a child with sensory problems, it can be almost unbearable.

A typical child who complains that a poke feels like a shove may just be trying to get attention or pick a fight. But to a child with sensory problems, that poke really does feel like a shove.

Kids can be clumsy, but children with sensory problems may struggle in vain to write with a pencil because the motor skills are just so off. Academic and social problems often ensue.

Children’s lives aren’t segmented, so “if something is going awry, then other things are going to be affected,” said Toni Schulken, director of the Charlotte occupational therapy practice Pathways for Learning.

Sensory processing problems occur when the brain’s neurons can’t correctly interpret incoming signals, said Lucy Jane Miller, executive director of the Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation in Colorado.

When the signals are mixed up, that affects the senses of touch, movement and balance, and space, she said. In the sensory processing world, these are known as the tactile, vestibular and proprioceptive systems.

But there’s no cure for sensory processing disorder. Rather, occupational therapists help patients learn to cope.

The SPD Foundation is trying to get the disorder recognized in the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,” the official catalog of mental disorders. The next edition, known as the DSM-5, comes out in 2013.

To put things in perspective, autism wasn’t included in the DSM until 1980. Before then, it was seen as a form of childhood schizophrenia. And even when it was recognized, it was limited to just one type and six symptoms until 1987, according to the nonprofit Autism Speaks.

But Eric Taylor, who is in the work group for childhood disorders for the DSM-5, said sensory processing disorder isn’t included in the current draft because there isn’t yet a clearly defined description or set of symptoms.

For a disorder to be added to the manual, it must fulfill a list of requirements that includes scientific validation and distinction from other disorders, said Taylor, a professor at the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College in London.

“We’re not ruling it out for all time and not saying it’s a definite ‘no,’ it just hasn’t yet passed the mark,” Taylor said.

— — —

Research is still being done to find a cause — what makes those neurons incorrectly interpret multiple signals, said Miller, of the SPD Foundation.

Brain wave research done by the foundation suggests that children with sensory issues have a jumpy response to sensory stimuli, no matter how many times they’re exposed to it. Typical children would have jumpy responses only the first or second time, Miller said.

Some doctors acknowledge that sensory issues are real, but that these issues don’t indicate a disorder so much as an immaturity of neurological development. In other words, kids eventually grow out of it.

“Children who appear to be hypersensitive to certain stimuli — that is a real phenomenon,” said Dr. DuBose Ravenel, a High Point, N.C., pediatrician who focuses on behavior. “But the question is whether it represents a pathology, or just some combination of factors, “like the child’s temperament and parents’ reaction to behavior.

Ravenel cowrote a book that speaks out against the labeling and diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder with family psychologist John Rosemond, who writes a parenting column that appears in The Observer. Rosemond argues that the symptoms exhibited by children with sensory processing issues are really just behavioral problems that can be handled with discipline.

If a girl exhibited symptoms and was diagnosed with SPD but a behavioral approach cured her, that “impeaches the theory behind it,” Rosemond said.

— — —

Some families beg to differ. They’ve seen the problems with their children, and they’ve seen the effects of therapy.

For Noah Kellar, a 9-year-old who lives in Charlotte, affection and physical contact from doting family friends used to put him in a constant panic mode.

“It was irritating, and I’d get mad,” Noah said. “There was just too much going on.”

It became embarrassing for the family because people thought Noah was being rude or disrespectful. He couldn’t play well with other kids. They tried discipline and incentive, but nothing fully worked.

Danetta Kellar, a licensed speech pathologist, knew something was different about her son since he was 18 months old.

“As a professional and a parent, I knew something was up,” she said. She took him to an occupational therapist, and after a long examination, he was diagnosed with SPD.

Three years of therapy later, Noah is a typically functioning rising fourth-grader. He knows that if he starts to get anxious about something, he needs to move around to calm down. In fact, when his SPD was at its worst, his mother made a tip sheet for his teachers so they’d know how to deal with different behaviors.


Sensory processing disorder is divided into three categories.

The first comprises sensory over- and under-responders and sensory seekers — people who may over react or under react to pain or noise, and people who may seek out bear hugs and crave lots of motion.

The second includes people with sensory motor disorders, who may seem clumsy and uncoordinated.

The third encompasses people who have trouble discriminating between the different senses.

What therapy involves:

Therapy is typically used to treat people with sensory processing disorder. Experts say it’s important to seek out an occupational therapist who has extensive training and experience with SPD, or who is certified to administer the Sensory Integration and Praxis Test, the official diagnostic test.

A symptom checklist, parent questionnaires and interviews may also be done for diagnosis.

Recommended therapy includes weekly (if not more frequent) sessions and daily sensory “diets” that involve brushing the limbs with a surgical brush, putting tension on joints, doing exercises and doing heavy work to stimulate muscles and joints.

Not all insurance companies cover therapy, and a session can cost $90 to $160.

Other disorders:

Sensory processing disorder is commonly coupled with other learning or developmental disorders. It is sometimes mistaken for attention deficit disorder, because in both cases there is a perceived inattentiveness and need for movement. Autistic people also have sensory problems, but certainly not all people with sensory problems are autistic.