Jenny Clark


Sensory Regulation and Social Emotional Learning

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process of developing self-awareness, self-control, and interpersonal skills that are vital for a youth’s success in school, at home and in the community. Successful SEL is interdependent upon healthy sensory processing. 

Click here to watch Jenny’s video on sensory and SEL therapeutic benefits of exposure to nature and outdoor activities youth can engage in every day.

More Than Meets the Eye: Sensory Integration and Visual Processing

Vision is a complex neurological process involving the integration of multiple sensory systems. Therapeutic activities that integrate visual, vestibular, and proprioception input are effective interventions to help alleviate visual processing challenges. Listen to Jenny’s audio podcast as she talks about engaging therapy activities that address visual integration in children with sensory processing disorder.

The visual pathway is a neural pathway where visual input travels from the eyes to the central nervous system and integrates in the cerebellum. The cerebellum plays an especially important role in this process as it is the grand central train station where sensory signals from visual, vestibular, proprioceptive and auditory input communicate with each other.  There are many symptoms that a child may demonstrate which could indicate a visual processing deficit. Some of these may surprise you. These can include idiopathic toe walking, motion sickness, balance issues, eye-hand coordination delays, ocular tracking problems, and learning difficulties such as reading, math and handwriting. Therapeutic activities that integrate visual, vestibular, and proprioception input are effective interventions to help alleviate visual processing challenges. Here are some engaging therapy activities I have incorporated in my OT practice over the years to address visual processing in children.

  • Trampoline Activities
    • Coordinate vis.-vest.-prop. in graded sequence, such as:
    • Have child visually fixate on you while they bounce
    • Have child visually track your moving hand while bouncing
    • Play catch with child using large ball while they bounce
    • Draw visual targets on trampoline with chalk, such as clock face or square grid with numbers, then jump in a pattern
    • Have child toss and catch bean bag to self while bouncing
  • Swing Activities
    • Rescue the animals: while prone on a swing, reach to pick up a plush animal on mat and place it in a box
    • Prone in swing, assemble puzzle on mat
    • Prone in swing, engage in ring toss activity
    • Sit on swing and pick up a bean bag with feet (supine flexion)
    • Sit and swing while tracking a light-up toy
  • Alphabet Twister Games
    • Jump and spell
    • Upper-and lowercase letter discrimination
    • Right-left directionality – e.g., right hand on letter Z
    • Balance one foot on a letter
    • Visual perceptual skills – VSR, VM, VSM, VFG
    • Ocular tracking skills – Find the…
    • Midline crossing – Traditional Twister with hands/feet
  • Ball Pit Activities
    • Jump into (vestibular) and catch a plush animal
    • Climb out for proprioception and motor planning – Add VP and set up puzzle pieces to assemble
    • Throw the balls at stationary and moving targets
    • Toss and catch a beanbag
    • Pop bubbles while in ball pit
    • Look at light-up toys while in ball pit
    • Search for hidden objects in balls
  • Ocular Motor Activities
    • Catch bubbles on wand
    • Balloon volley: write letters/numbers on balloon; choose a letter/number to track while bopping the balloon
    • Zoom ball (ocular convergence): spell words
    • Beanbag toss while on balance board
    • Scoop Ball: name ice cream flavors
    • Hasbro Elefun game: catch pretend butterflies with net
    • Velcro ball game
    • Juggling with scarves
    • Dribbling a playground ball