Learning Breakthrough™ is a pioneering, home-based program that combines specially designed balance challenge with carefully selected movement activities (derived from occupational therapy teachings) to help clients directly address the underlying causes of Sensory Processing Disorders.

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), sometimes referred to as Sensory Integration Disorder (SID), is a complex disorder of the brain that affects children as they are in their development years (and some adults). People with SPD misinterpret everyday sensory information, such as touch, sound, light and movement, giving them a different experience of the sensory world than others have. Some feel bombarded and overwhelmed by ordinary sensations. Some can perceive sensory information but can’t interpret it correctly. Others seek out intense sensory experiences. This can lead to behavioral problems, difficulties with coordination, learning challenges, poor ability to stay on task, the slow processing of directions and many other issues. Children with SPD are often misunderstood and labeled as aggressive or clumsy. They sometimes find themselves socially isolated and have trouble in school. Effective treatment is available, but far too many children with SPD are misdiagnosed and not properly treated.

As the field of Sensory Integration Dysfunction has matured and researchers have learned more about this condition, many people have realized that it is time to clarify terminology. Although occupational therapists usually understand one another when using the term Sensory Integration Dysfunction, physicians and other health professionals lacking familiarity with the theory, assessments, and interventions frequently do not share the same knowledge base and may hold a more neuro-biological view of the term Sensory Integration (SI).

Dr. A. Jean Ayres, a researcher and pioneer in the field, coined the term Sensory Integration Dysfunction (SID). She used the term throughout her professional career (1954-1988) to describe atypical social, emotional, motor and functional patterns of behavior that were related to poor processing of sensory stimuli. Dr. Ayres chose the term for two reasons. First, it related to her hypothesized theoretical model, which posited an underlying neurological impairment in the ability to transfer sensory information efficiently between sensory systems in the brain. Second, the term referred to her proposed intervention model, which used sensory stimuli in one domain to affect performance in another domain (e.g., the use of deep pressure/proprioceptive input to decrease over-responsiveness in the tactile domain). During intervention two or more sensory domains are actively used concurrently. Often, action in one or more sensory systems (or provision of one or more sensory stimuli) supports the child as she or he makes an adaptive response to a challenging situation involving another sensory system. An adaptive response occurs when a child engages in activities of increasing difficulty and makes a successful response.

SID can also include children who have processing deficits in one or more areas. Visual and auditory processing deficits are  quite often noticed in children with cerebral palsy. When a child has a visual processing deficit, it does not mean that the child cannot see. It means that they have a hard time finding the words for objects they are viewing or, if asked to go get an object, they might look right at it and then say they can’t find it. This is because although they are seeing it, their brains are not processing efficiently enough the fact that they are seeing it. Auditory processing deficits are much the same. A child hears what is being said but the brain does not process it fast enough or accurately enough. The result is that the child misunderstands what was said or it takes a long time for what was said to “click” with the child.

Proper and consistent use of the Learning Breakthrough Program™ is very beneficial to those who suffer from these types of issues. Its use of direct methods to make several sensory systems interact in a unified way and to provide feedback for accuracy in processing sensory information is what has made it effective in sensory clinics and homes around the world. Combining the Learning Breakthrough™ activities with ongoing occupational therapy sessions, listening treatments or physical therapy can “super charge” their effectiveness also. There are no side effects to worry about and we often note that the worst outcomes that can occur when using Learning Breakthrough™ are improved balance and visual acuity.