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Glossary of Terms

Glossary of Terms

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | IK | L | M | N | O | P | R | S | T | V | W | Z 

Adaptive Response: An appropriate action in which the individual responds successfully to some environmental demand. Adaptive responses require good sensory integration, and they also further the sensory integrative process.

Apraxia: The lack of praxis or motor planning. Interference with planning and executing an unfamiliar task.

Articulation: The production of vowels and consonants by the active and passive articulators in the mouth. The active articulators are the moving parts of the mouth (lips/tongue/soft palate) which can produce sounds, whilst the passive articulators are the non-moving parts of the mouth (hard palate, teeth) against which, in the production of many sounds, the active articulators come into contact.

Asymmetry: One side of the body is different from the other.

Auditory: Pertaining to hearing.

Auditory Discrimination: The ability to recognize differences in phoneme. This includes the ability to identify words and sounds that are similar and those that are different.

Auditory Perceptual Problems: Difficulty in taking information through the sense of hearing and/or processing that information. The child may hear inaccurately.

Auditory Sequential Memory: The ability to hear a sequence of sounds or words or sentences and be able to hold them in the memory for sufficient time to be able to gain information from them, process that information and respond to it.

Balance: Ability to stay in and regain a position such as standing and sitting.

Beery: A development test of visual motor integration.

Bilateral: Refers to the ability to co-ordinate both sides of the body.

Bilateral Integration: The ability to move both sides of the body in opposing patterns of movement, such as jumping sideways.

Body Awareness: The sensory knowledge of oneself moving through space.

Body Image: The visual knowledge of oneself.

  • A person’s perception of his own body. It consists of sensory images or “maps” of the body stored in the brain. Also may be called body scheme or body percept.

Body Percept: A person’s perception of his own body, consisting of sensory pictures or ‘maps’ of the body stored in the brain. It may also be called the body scheme or body image.

Body Psychology: Learning the language of the mind-body connection.

Body Scheme: The sensory knowledge of oneself.

Brain Stem: The lowest and inner-most portion of the brain. The brain stem contains centers that regulate internal organic functions, arousal of the nervous system as a whole, and elementary sensory-motor processing.

Central Programming: Neural functions that are innate within the central nervous system; they do not have to be learned. Crawling on hands and knees and walking are good examples of centrally programmed actions.

Cerebral Palsy: Permanent, but not unchanging, disorder of posture and movement resulting from brain damage.

Cluttering: Rapid and muddled speech. 

Co-contraction: The simultaneous contraction of all the muscles around the joint to stabilize it.

Co-ordination: Muscles working together to achieve smooth, efficient movements.

CranioSacral Therapy:  gentle touch that softens and mobilizes connective tissue and meninges

Development: Process of growth of all body parts and functions, physical, emotional and intellectual.

Directional Awareness: The ability to move in different directions such as forwards, backwards, and sideways.

Distractible: Not able to concentrate.

Dominance: Relates to the side the child uses to carry out activities that require just one side to be used, such as writing, kicking a ball, looking through a tube.

Dysarthria: The articulation of language leading to slurred speech.

Dysgraphia: Extremely poor handwriting or the inability to perform the motor movements required for handwriting.

Dyslexia: Difficulty in reading or learning to read.

Dyspraxia: Poor praxis or motor planning, a less severe but more common dysfunction than apraxia.

  • It is often related to poor somato-sensory processing.

Equilibrium: Refers to body movements or shift in weight in order to regain/maintain balance.

Expressive Language: Communication by means of the spoken word. The ability to produce spoken language that is grammatically and syntactically sound and coherent in both content and sequence.

Extension: The action of straightening the neck, back, arms, or legs.

Eye-hand co-ordination: The ability of the eyes and hands to work together. It is needed for writing for example.

Fine Motor: Small movements requiring dexterity. Ex– picking up small objects in a pincer grasp, requiring use of a finger and thumb to work in a pinching movement. Without fine motor it is difficult to eat, dress, write, cut, and other activities requiring small motor level skills.

Finger Agnosia: The ability to recognize which finger is being touched when vision is excluded.

Flexion: The act of bending or pulling in a part of the body.

Floppy: Any or all parts of the body that feel very loose and can be moved in a greater range than you would expect.

Grapheme: Individual letters of the alphabet

Gravitational Insecurity: An unusual degree of anxiety or fear in response to movement or change in head position; related to poor processing of vestibular and proprioception information.

Gross Motor: Large movements allow us to balance, walk, run, throw and catch a ball.

Higher Level Language: The ability to process, integrate, interpret, and organize verbal and written language.

Hypersensitivity To Movement: Excessive sensations of disorientation, loss of balance, nausea, or headache in response to linear and/or rotary movement. Response may be delayed up to several hours after receiving input.

IEP: Individual education plan for the child with special educational needs.

Imagery And Dialoguing: Exploring the subconscious and brining forth awareness.

Kinanesthesia: The knowledge of where your body is in space.

  • Perception of the movement of individual body parts; dependent on proprioception.

Lateralization: The tendency for certain processes to be handled more efficiently on one side of the brain than on the other. In most people, the right hemisphere becomes more efficient in processing spatial information, while the left hemisphere specializes in verbal and logical processes.

Learning Disorder: A difficulty in learning to read, write, compute, or do school work that cannot be attributed to impaired sight or hearing, or to mental retardation.

Lymphatic Drainage: Gentle massage of lymphatic pathways and nodes to help body detox.

Midline: This develops out of laterality. A child needs to have well-defined midline in order to develop a sense of space around him and be able to orientate himself and his surroundings.

Midline Crossing: The ability to cross one hand from one side of the body to the other, required for activities such as handwriting.

Minimal Brain Dysfunction: A mild or minimal neurological abnormality that causes learning difficulties in the child with near-average intelligence.

Minimal Crossing: The ability of your hand to cross from one side of the body to the other.

Modulation: The brain’s regulation of its own activity. Modulation involves facilitating some neural messages to maximize a response, and inhibiting other message to reduce irrelevant activity.

Motivation: A desire to do something.

Motor Planning: The ability of the brain to conceive and organize and carry out a sequence of unfamiliar actions – also known as praxis.

Myofascial Release: Lengthening and mobilizing connective tissue.

Nystagmus: A series of automatic, back-and-forth eye movements. Different conditions produce this reflex. Rotary movement followed by an abrupt stop normally produces postrotary nystagmus. The duration and regularity of postrotary nystagmus are some of the indicators of one aspect of vestibular system efficiency.

Occupational Therapy: Management of activities of daily living and educational skills.

  • Occupational therapy is a health profession concerned with improving a person’s occupational performance. In a pediatric setting, the occupational therapist deals with children whose occupations are usually players, preschoolers, or students. The occupational therapist evaluates a child’s performance in relation to what is developmentally expected for that age group. If there is a discrepancy between developmental expectations and functional ability, the occupational therapist looks at a variety of perceptual and neuromuscular factors which influence function. Based on a knowledge of neurology, kinesiology, development, medical diagnoses, and current research, the occupational therapist can identify the children who have the best potential for remediation through occupational therapy.

Optometrist: Tests people’s vision and prescribes glasses.

Oral Peripheral Examination: The passive and active oral structures are investigated to ascertain the existence of any abnormality. Their function is then determined to ascertain whether any breakdown in the accuracy/speed/sequencing co-ordination of movement could be contributing to decreased speech intelligibility and exacerbating feeding patterns.

Orthoptist: A paramedic who specializes in the movement of the eyes and children’s visual problems.

Pelvic Stability: Relates to the join laxity and the muscle strength of and around the hips.

Perception: The meaning the brain gives to sensory input. Sensations are objective, perception is subjective.

Perceptual Constancy: The ability to perceive an object as possessing certain properties such as shape, position and size in spite of the different ways it may be presented.

Phoneme: Speech sound.

Phonological Awareness: The understanding that language is made up of individual sounds which are put together to form the words we write and speak. It is the ability to identify numbers of syllables and repeat multisyllabic words to detect or generate rhymes, to blend and segment words into their component syllables and sounds. These skills are important prerequisites for developing reading, writing and spelling.

Physical Therapy: Physical therapy is a health profession concerned with improving a person’s physical ability. In a pediatric setting, the physical therapist evaluates a child’s orthopedic structure and neuromuscular functions. A physical therapist can also receive special training identical to that received by an occupational therapist to assess and remediate the disorders in sensory processing that influence learning and behavior.

Physiotherapy: Management of the movement disorders.

Posture: A position from which a child starts moving, any movement when it stops.

Pragmatics: The social use of language.

Praxis: (Motor Planning) the ability of the brain to conceive of organize, and carry out a sequence of unfamiliar actions.

Prone: The horizontal body position with the face and stomach downward.

Proprioception:  From the Latin word for “one’s own” refers to perception of sensation from the muscles and joints. Proprioceptive input tells the brain when and how muscles are contracting or stretching, and when and how the joints are bending, extending or being pulled or compressed. This information enables the brain to know where each part of the body is and how it is moving.

Receptive Language: The ability to understand language.

Reflexes: Always exactly the same response to certain stimuli – for example, turning the head to the left causes extension of the limbs on that side, and flexion of the limbs on the other side.

Refractive error: The lens power required to produce a perfectly focused image on the retina.

Semantic: The meaning of words.

Sensory Input: The streams of neural impulses flowing from the sense receptors in the body to the spinal cord and brain.

Sensory Integration: The organization of sensory input for use. The “use” may be a perception of the body or the world, or an adaptive response, or a learning process, or the development of some neural function. Through sensory integration, the many parts of the nervous system work together so that a person can interact with the environment effectively and experience appropriate satisfaction.

  • Understanding link sensory triggers of stress and avoidance and pain.

  • A process that describes the ability to organize sensory information for use.

Sensory Integration And Praxis Tests (SIPT): A series of tests, published in 1989, designed to assess the status of sensory integration and praxis (motor planning) in children ages 4 through 8 years old. The SIPT is a revised and updated version of the original SCSIT.

Sensory Integrative Dysfunction: An irregularity or disorder in brain function that makes it difficult to integrate sensory input effectively. Sensory integrative dysfunction may be present in motor, learning, social/emotional, speech/language or attention disorders.

Sequencing: The ability to master individual steps and activities and pass from one component part to the next in the correct order.

Shoulder Stability: Relates to the muscle strength and joint laxity of the shoulders.

Skill: The efficiency of carrying out a task.

Somato Emotional Release:  Learning what emotions are linked to pain and dysfunction, and in a trusting environment, gaining resolution and freedom from the intensity of the memory.

Somatosensory: Body sensations that are based on both tactile and proprioceptive information.

Southern California Sensory Integration Tests (SCSIT):  A series of tests, published in 1972, designed to assess the status of sensory integration or it’s dysfunction. These tests were later revised, updated and republished as the Sensory Integration and Praxis Tests (SIPT).

Spatial Awareness: The ability of the child to judge distances and direction of himself in relation to other objects.

Spatial Orientation: Knowledge of space and the distance between the self and objects in the environment.

Specialization: In general, the process by which one part of the brain becomes more efficient at particular functions. Most specialized functions are lateralized, that is, one side of the brain is more proficient in the function than the other side.

Speech And Language Therapy: Management of eating, drinking, speech and language and communication difficulties.

Stereognosis: The ability to perceive and understand the shape and size and texture of objects by the sense of touch alone.

Strain - Counterstain Manual Therapies: A more directive, deeper use of myofascial release.

Supine: The horizontal body position with the face and stomach upward.

Symmetrical Integration: The ability to move both sides of the body simultaneously in identical patterns of movement. A child should be able to jump forwards with both feet together 10 out of 10 times.

Tactile: Pertaining to sense of touch on the skin.

Tactile Defensiveness: A sensory integrative dysfunction in which tactile sensations create negative emotional reactions. It is associated with distractibility, restlessness, and behavior problems.

Tone: Firmness of the muscles.

TVPS: A non motor test for visual perception.

Vestibular System: The sensory input that responds to the position of the head in relation to gravity and decelerated or accelerated movement.

  • The sensory system that responds to the position of the head by way of semi-circular canals in the inner ear. Inside the canals is fluid that stimulates cells when the head moves in different speeds and directions. This is how the body deals with movement and gravity, and the level of awareness typically is subconscious unless very intense. When dysfunctional, the person seems to be more aware or less able to deal with imposed movements, like having motion sickness to a mild degree.

Visceral Manipulation: Gentle stretching and mobilization of the suspension connective tissue surrounding organs to gain freedom from pain.

Visual: Pertaining to sight.

Visual Closure: The ability to recognize and object when presented as an incomplete form.

Visual Discrimination: The ability to discriminate similarities and differences in characteristics, arrangements, sequences or organization of visual stimuli.

Visual Figure Ground: The ability to differentiate stimulus from its background or the ability to attend to one stimulus without being distracted by irrelevant visual stimulus.

Visual Memory: The ability to recall characteristics of stimuli through vision only.

Visual Motor Integration: The integration of visual motor information which enables eye-hand co-ordination, that is required to carry out activities.

Visual Perception: Judging depth, visual closure, visual discrimination and visual figure ground – that is, difficulty processing information, seeing the difference between two objects, trouble seeing how far and near objects might be.

Visual Spatial Relationships: The ability to sense the relationship of objects with each other and yourself. Depth, length, position, direction and movement are all aspects of this sense.

Word Finding Difficulties: One has difficulty thinking of the word one wants to say quickly and accurately, even though one does know the word. These difficulties interrupt attempts at conversation and are frustrating for the speaker as well as the listener.

Zero Balancing: Structural realignment to regain symmetry of the body.

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