Advanced Pediatric Therapies


Happy Thanksgiving!

Great way to get your kids moving!

Great way to get your kids moving!

We are so grateful to all our families, past and present!  Happy Thanksgiving to all!


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Sheila Frick visits APT!!

It was a packed house to get an education from Sheila.

It was a packed house to get an education from Sheila.

A few weekends ago, we had a visit from a big name in the occupational therapy world:  Sheila Frick.  Sheila provided a two day conference on “Core Connections:  Exploring the Core’s Developmental Roots.”  Basically, what we can do to more effectively work on core strength and also new concepts relating to why core strength is even more essential than we previously thought.  The course also taught us new ways to cultivate better breath control and we got to practice on each other.

Sheila created the Therapeutic Listening Program, which many of you are already using.  You can learn more about Sheila and TLP at  Sheila is an amazing lecturer and she makes even the most elaborate neuroscience seem accessible.  She has been an OT since 1980, has a private practice in Madision, Wisconsin and has published countless books and articles on pediatric occupational therapy.

All of us came back from the weekend rejuvenated and eager to share what we learned with our families.  If you have any questions let us know, but your child is already benefiting from the knowledge all of us gained through Sheila.  We can’t wait til she comes back again!

Some familiar faces were eager to practice what they were learning!

Some familiar faces just before they all jumped off the platform.  See, we do it too!

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What is “Vestibular Processing” anyway?

Spinning is super fun!

Spinning is super fun!

The following is excepted from North Shore Pediatric Therapy:


The vestibular system detects movement and gravitational pull, and it provides information regarding the position of our head in space and acceleration and deceleration of movement. It is the first sensory system to fully develop in uteroandis located in the inner ear. The vestibular system has strong neurological connections in the brain and is a major organizer of varied sensory input. This system is considered the most influential sensory system and has tremendous impact on one’sability to function daily. Directly or indirectly, the vestibular system influences nearly everything we do. It is the unifying system in our brain that modifies and coordinates information received from other systems, and it functions like a traffic cop, telling each sensation where and when it should go or stop.  


This system affects aspects of physical function like posture, balance, movement, coordination, attention, arousal level, impulsivity and behavior. The vestibular system works with tactile, auditory, and visual information to give us our perception of space and our position and orientation within that space. Children affected by poor vestibular processing may be perceived as inattentive, lazy, overly anxious, or seeking attention. They may have trouble reading or doing simple arithmetic. Functioning at school, going out into the community, performing routine daily tasks, or just getting out of bed in the morning may be difficult for children with vestibular difficulties.


Poor vestibular processing (or vestibular dysfunction) can occur for a variety of reasons; often, however,children develop a vestibular disorder for no known reason. Possible causes for vestibular dysfunction include: premature birth and a fairly long period of incubation after birth, exposure to excessive movement or invasive sounds as a fetus or infant, neglect (little handling and moving) during infancy, repeated ear infections or severe ear infections, maternal drug or alcohol abuse during pregnancy, or general developmental delay and immature development of the nervous system.


Symptoms and functional difficulties of poor vestibular processing include:

  • Over-arousal or under-arousal
  • Excessive movement
  • Avoiding movement at all costs
  • Difficulty maintaining attention
  • Motion sickness (car, boat, airplane), dizziness or nausea caused by watching things move
  • Excessive spinning or excessive watching of things spin
  • Inability to read or write in cursive
  • Decreased auditory processing
  • Inability to sustain listening without moving or rocking
  • Problems with balance (static or moving) and/or vertigo
  • Difficulty walking on uneven ground, and difficulty navigating stairs
  • Head banging
  • History of traumatic brain injury, shaken child syndrome, ear cuffing, etc.


The vestibular system primes the entire nervous system to function effectively by sending messages to the higher centers of the brain. When the influences of vestibular stimuli fail to reach their destinations, they cannot adequately contribute to sensory integration. One result of depressed processing in the vestibular system is hypotonicity (low muscle tone); when this system is not integrating information as it should and muscle tone is decreased, it is difficult to initiate movement or to maintain muscle tension during movement, resulting in significant difficulties in fine/gross and oral motor coordination.

The vestibular system also tells us where we are in relation to the ground, giving us a confidence that if we jump, swing, or somersault, we know we will hit the ground on our way down. Thisknowledge is called “gravitational security,”and with this basic sense of stability, children develop emotional security.

A child with dysfunctional vestibular processing, who does not possess “gravitational security,” tends to be inflexible, fearful and controlling due to the fact that he lacks control over the world around him and how he moves through it. This child often suffers from social problems as well, as he feels vulnerable to unpredictable situations caused by those around him.

Our Approach at APT:

At APT, we treat vestibular dysfunction in a variety of ways.  The most obvious are all the swings, climbing apparatus and tunnels you see around.  But we also address vestibular dysfunction by using auditory interventions, primarily therapeutic listening.   We don’t treat it in isolation either.  Most of the activities we utilize integrate many layers of sensory skills and we work toward what is best for your child.   Please ask us if you have questions!

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