Specialized programs such as Sensory Integration, Yoga, Sports and Movement, and Music are designed to support and enhance each student’s learning experience at the Stepping Stones School. These programs are designed and implemented by highly trained professionals with dedicated years of experience in delivering specialized supplements to educational programs. Best practice research in understanding how to use specialized program enhancements is ongoing so as to maximize each student’s ability to learn and thrive in all areas of the development. Please read below to learn more.
Sensory Integration Programs
As they grow, children learn how to take in and process all this sensory information at the same time and focus their attention on particular sensations while ignoring others.
The Stepping Stones School incorporates sensory integration therapies throughout each student’s day to provide the assistance to help students maximize their learning potential.
Sensory integration activities are an internal component of our educational program throughout the day. Additionally, individualized sensory programs are created for each child that addresses the unique sensory needs of the student, and produces a “sensory diet” for them. A “sensory diet” is a schedule of activities that provide sensory experiences a child needs to bolster sensory processing and become more self-regulated, ultimately leading to a child who is more organized, focused, and ready for learning.
The following are some of the sensory integration techniques utilized throughout each child’s day at The Stepping Stones School:
Wilbarger Brushing Protocol®:
Based on the theory of Sensory Integration, these brushing techniques use a specific method of stimulation to the skin in order to help the brain organize sensory information. The Wilbarger Brushing Protocol® has been found to be most beneficial to children with sensory integrative dysfunction. Benefits noted are:
- Improves ability to transition between activities (calming after emotional outburst, improving tolerance levels)
- Helps children who have difficulties being touched (tactile defensiveness)
- Increases self-regulation (how we control our behaviors); self-calming
- Increases the ability of the nervous system to use information from the senses more effectively
- Improves attention and focus
Therapeutic Listening ®:
Therapeutic Listening® is an evidence-based protocol that combines a sound-based intervention with sensory integrative activities to create a comprehensive program that is effective for diverse populations with sensory challenges. Therapeutic Listening can impact sensory modulation, attention, behavior, postural organization, and speech and language difficulties. Therapists use modulated CDs to set up programs for children in our school to increase treatment effectiveness. Listening is a function of the entire brain; when we listen, we listen with the whole body.
- Some additional sensory integration modifications include:
- Seating options: Rifton chairs; bean bag chairs; ball chairs
- Sensory Adaptations: Heavy wagons to push; weighted blankets
- Gross Motor Adaptations: treadmills; push cars
- Oral Motor Adaptations: utensils with larger grips; straws with adaptors
- Fine Motor Adaptations: slant boards for writing; adaptive scissors
- Educational and technological support: Ipads; SMART boards; touchscreen computers
- Specialized programs: Yoga, Music
At Stepping Stones, although our children often have sensory processing difficulties, with our comprehensive sensory integration program students are provided with individualized modifications, activities, and experiences to help maximize learning and achieve success.
Stepping Stones School students participate in weekly yoga classes taught by a certified teacher who is a qualified yoga instructor for children with disabilities. A centuries old practice that reflects real and proven scientific concepts, yoga balances the mind, strengthens the body and nurtures the concepts while simultaneously addressing a wide range of developmental goals. Children who are experiencing developmental challenges often present with a heightened states of stress and reactivity. Development requires change, adaptation, and growth on all levels including: motor, sensory, emotional, immune and psychological. Yoga gently resets the nervous system, creating a shift from survival mode to a feeling of internal safety and coping. As children develop a sense of internal control and calm, they become better able to interact with others and the environment without stress.
Sports and Movement
Stepping Stones School students participate in a sports and movement program which provides meaningful movement experiences while maintaining an engaging and stimulating environment. The goal of the program is to provide children with fun games and activities in a group setting to encourage socialization, teamwork, and good sportsmanship. Activities include recess and after-school type games that are adapted to meet the needs of our students and provide therapeutic benefits while teaching the skills of how to play each game. This program provides a modified approach to sports that allows for individualized gross motor development and new opportunities for socialization.
Stepping Stones students participate in a music program which provides students with the opportunity to express themselves using musical instruments, song and dance. Weekly classes consist of responding to new and familiar songs while interacting and socializing with peers. Activities are modified to allow students to participate and addresses areas of development such as fine and gross motor, speech/language, and social skills.