Healthy Bodies and Healthy Minds: Sensory Strategies for Promoting Wellness in Children

presented by Jenny L. Clark

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In this course, therapists learn innovative ideas on how to integrate health and wellness interventions and strategies into the daily lives of youth struggling with childhood disorders that impact emotional regulation, attention span, problem solving skills, social interactions, and physical health. The American Occupational Therapy Association’s ‘Vision 2025’ identifies health and wellness as a focused key practice area for therapists in the 21st century. Because health is an important component of both physical and emotional well-being, there is an increased need for wellness-related services. Research studies examining health-related interventions indicate promising results for children’s well-being. Implementing these interventions into daily life improves a child’s neurophysiological symptoms resulting from SPD, ADHD, ASD, and decreased exposure to nature. As the number of children with SPD increases and the correlation between nature-deficit disorder and prevalent childhood disorders is established, it is imperative for therapists to incorporate wellness interventions into their therapeutic strategies. This course identifies a decrease in physical activity as a key problem in children with sensory processing disorder (SPD), attention deficit disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and nature-deficit disorder. Therapists are introduced to a variety of wellness strategies focusing on meaningful occupations, including outdoor activities in nature, therapeutic gardening, yoga, deep breathing, and mindfulness activities. These wellness interventions teach children many important skills that can be applied to daily life experiences.

Meet Your Instructor

  • Jenny L. Clark, OTR/L

    Jenny L. Clark, OTR/L, has helped children over the past 25 years as a licensed pediatric occupational therapist working as a speaker, consultant, private practitioner at her own clinic (Jenny’s Kids, Inc.), school-based occupational therapist, independent contractor for early intervention services, author, and inventor. Her Sensory Processing Disorder Kit: Simulations and Solutions for Parents, Teachers, and Therapists (AAPC 2006) won the 2007 Media in Excellence video award from the Autism Society of America. Her passion for developing new approaches to therapy can be seen in her diverse contributions to the field, including: the evidence-based curriculum material Learn to Move, Move to Learn: Sensorimotor Early Childhood Activity Themes (AAPC 2004), and the sequel Learn to Move, Moving Up! Sensorimotor Elementary School Activity Themes (AAPC 2009). Jenny was a contributing author for the book Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Handbook for Parents and Professionals (Greenwood Publishing Group 2007), as well as the author of a chapter in Autism Spectrum Disorders: Foundations, Characteristics, and Effective Strategies (Pearson Publishing 2011). Most recently, Jenny was the technical reviewer for The Everything Parents Guide to Sensory Processing Disorder (Terri Mauro, Adams Media 2014). Jenny is the inventor of the patent-pending “Weigh” Cool Bracelet (www.abilitations.com) and her most recent creation, Letter Treasure Hunt handwriting game (Therapro 2014). She can be reached at www.SPDconnection.com.

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Chapters & Learning Objectives

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  1. Identifying Occupational Wellness Needs in the Pediatric Population Through Evidence-Based Practices

    1. Identifying Occupational Wellness Needs in the Pediatric Population Through Evidence-Based Practices

    Chapter one discusses AOTA’s ‘Vision 2025’ for the promotion of health and wellness interventions to facilitate participation in meaningful occupations. Therapists learn about the ethical application of complimentary health approaches in occupational therapy practice. Research-based evidence will be presented that indicates it is necessary for children and youths to get outside and move to both promote wellness and prevent health-related problems such as childhood obesity, decreased attention, anxiety, and more. Therapists glean an understanding about why lack of movement contributes to physical, emotional, and behavioral challenges in children with childhood disorders including sensory processing disorder, attention deficit disorder, and autism spectrum disorder. Therapists will learn characteristics of ‘Nature-Deficit Disorder’, a term coined by Richard Louv, author of "Last Child in the Woods" and why getting outside in nature is important for the health and well-being of our youth.

  2. Occupation-Based Wellness Interventions for Children and Youth Part One: Nature and Nutrition

    2. Occupation-Based Wellness Interventions for Children and Youth Part One: Nature and Nutrition

    Chapter two provides therapists with a vast array of practical interventions that address wellness-related issues for children. Therapists will learn about the benefits for children of exposure to nature. Therapists will develop a repertoire of fun and creative ways to get kids outside while integrating sensory rich experiences, such as Jr. Park Ranger programs and geocaching with kids. This chapter will discuss agricultural literacy and how this impacts a child’s nutritional health. With this knowledge, therapists will glean intervention strategies to address this issue, such as involving children in therapeutic gardening. These pediatric occupation-based interventions include activities that parents, teachers, and therapists can implement in a variety of settings.

  3. Occupation-Based Wellness Interventions for Children and Youth Part Two: Deep Breathing, Meditation, and Mindfulness

    3. Occupation-Based Wellness Interventions for Children and Youth Part Two: Deep Breathing, Meditation, and Mindfulness

    Chapter three discusses wellness-related interventions for children, deep breathing, meditation, and mindfulness. It will explore a variety of engaging deep breathing activities for children, such as balloon breath and bee breath. Therapists will learn how meditation is a neurophysiological ‘brain break’ for children that helps to improve attention, emotional regulation, and self-esteem. This chapter provides therapists with mindfulness strategies that can help children develop sensory self-regulation skills.

  4. Yoga Poses as Therapeutic Intervention for Children and Youth

    4. Yoga Poses as Therapeutic Intervention for Children and Youth

    Chapter four discusses the evidence-based therapeutic value of yoga poses for children and youth. Implementing yoga poses into therapy helps to address a wide spectrum of a child’s developmental needs, from emotional regulation and attention span to motor planning and coordination. Individual yoga poses are selected for discussion of sensory and musculoskeletal benefits. Therapists learn the qualities of yoga as an effective approach to help children overcome deficits so that they can experience quality of life through meaningful and joyful activity.