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Transcripts of Selected Group Discussions on CYC-Net

Since it's founding in 1997, the CYC-Net discussion group has been asked thousands of questions. These questions often generate many replies from people in all spheres of the Child and Youth Care profession and contain personal experiences, viewpoints, as well as recommended resources.

Below are some of the threads of discussions on varying Child and Youth Care related topics.

Questions and Responses have been reproduced verbatim.

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Sensory processing disorder?

Hi everyone,

I was wondering whether anyone has done work with children with sensory processing disorder, especially very young children (ages 3/4/5)? And, can you point me to some resources (online) or provide any suggestions for managing the behaviour of children with SPD? I would be very interested in knowing whether there are programmes specifically for children with SPD or related issues, and find some information on how those programmes work, what models they use, etc.

Werner van der Westhuizen
Port Elizabeth, South Africa

Morning Werner,

Are you connected to linked in? I am sure that I saw something on Linked in, peripherally.

Antoinette Meyer


Are you working with an Occupational Therapist? I have been to various workshops on the "sensory diet" you may find information online if you look that up but it is important to work with the interdisciplinary team especially the OT.

Debby LaPointe

I've used how does your engine run to help try to integrate various sense into teaching self soothing methods.

If you have a local occupational therapist available to chat they could help you a lot.

Lisa Penner

Hi Werner,

Here's a couple online resources and articles:

A couple of helpful websites – some of these are companies marketing a curriculum or products, but I find them full of helpful ideas.

Here's a classic book which many have found helpful. You can read the introduction online as well as a couple dozen other articles at

Kranowitz, C. (2005). The out-of-sync child: Recognizing and coping with sensory processing disorder. New York, NY: Perigee.

And a brief article about how my program has used a sensory room to eliminate seclusion and support the nurturing of self-regulation: Freeman, J. (2013). The use of sensory activity in de-escalation. Relational Child and Youth Care Practice, 26(4), 72-73.

Good luck!
James Freeman
Southern California USA

Hi Werner,

I think this is also referred to as “sensory integration difficulties” which seems to have some relationship to mild forms of autism. A young boy I know experienced this when a pre-schooler. He would become almost hysterical during haircuts, when he heard a horse neighing, walking on grass barefoot, wearing woolly jumpers … Certain food textures also caused problems. He was referred to an occupational therapist (there are several who specialise in sensory integration difficulties in South Africa). One of the things which was used was a surgical brush to brush certain areas of the body in a particular way. The OT also indicated that many children grow out of it. The child had several sessions with the OT but not longer than a few months. He is now 13-years old and there are no further indications of sensory difficulties as far as I know.

I hope this helps ...

Jackie Winfield

Dana MacCullum

Good evening Werner van der Westhuizen,

I am currently a student Mount Royal University, located in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, in the Child and Youth Care Counselor Diploma program and within this we are required to complete a certain number of hours in a practicum placement. For my placement, I am in a Child Development Centre, working with ages of children 3-5. This Development Centre is for children whose parents have gone through the Nurturing Parent classes and are considered low income, or who face other difficulties. Within this Development Centre there is a range of issues that these children have. One of the main issues I have seen is children with sensory issues. These issues range from children that are sensitive to sound and sensitive to touch and textures. Within this the biggest topic we have been talking about with Occupational Therapies is the issues around primary movement patterns (or primitive reflex patterns).

In a recent group workshop with our Occupational Therapist, we talked about different tools and activities that we can use with the children to help them build on their reflexes. Such tools are known as manipulatives (magnetic boards with shapes to form letters), short tools (such as pens, pencils, and crayons that are smaller for their hands), scissors that are fit for children and learning how to cut, and hair gel (this is used in Ziploc bags with food colouring and sparkles for the child to squish). During this workshop we also discussed the 5 primary movement patterns (or the primitive reflex patterns). These movement patterns are known to impact day-to-day development as the child ages. As children come to this development centre we are able to help them reshape their motor patterns because of the neuroplasticity of their brain. These 5 primary movement patterns are:

1. Moro – This is the “Fight or Flight” and provides for protective extension (involuntary reaction to threat)
2. Tonic Labyrinthine – This forms the basis for postural tone, moving head and maintaining balance
3. Symmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex (STNR) – This is the change of head position causing change of arm position
4. Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex (ATNR) – This facilitates rotation; prepares the body for rolling and crawling; hand-eye coordination
5. Gallant – This breaks up the trunk of the body against extremity movement

There are numerous reasons why a child's primary movement patterns are not developed for their age. Two key items that we had discussed were:

a) That strollers and car seats are becoming overused with infants. As these positions only allow the child to be sitting or laying on one plane, they are not getting the movement they need in order to help these reflexes form. The recommended form for babies is to be "worn" by their parent in baby ‘backpacks’, as this allows the child not only to help build on their reflexes, but they are also connected to more sensory items (such as the touch, warmth, sound, movement of the parent) as they are against their parent.
b) Children are receiving too much screen time, either through TV, Iphones, or Ipads and not enough stimulation through play, music, or reading.

Sheila Flick, who is an Occupational Therapist in the USA, has provided workshops for organizations that use Occupational Therapy as a way to help the children that they work with. Sheila’s idea of “stacking the odds for success” was the main theme throughout the workshop that I attended (lead by a different occupational therapist).

Here are two websites that Sheila is affiliated with that may be of some use to you:

I am not sure if this information will be of much help to you due to your location, but I would recommend looking at her websites as she is highly recommended as an Occupational Therapist.

Best regards,
Kristin Larson

Calgary, Alberta

Hi Werner,

Look up Sensory Integration by the grand old lady of that discipline:

Med venlig hilsen/ yours sincerely
Niels Peter Rygaard

Hi Werner,

Great question and from what I have experienced there are Occupational Therapists that are still attempting to utilize unproven, expensive products that do little to help (Weighted vests, brushing, Sensory Integration etc..) They all sound just and have wonderful theories as to why they are purported to work. Attempt to steer away from studies that have obvious conflicts of interest, rather seek out gold standard " Double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled studies". You will find very few. I do know that this research had been done on Sensory integration and the O.T journal themselves found little evidence of the effectiveness in the techniques. Some may in fact work and I go by the (Time X money X harm ratio) If the technique is cheap , takes little time, and can do no harm why not try it if the client consents. As for brushing be wary as it takes a enormous amount of time, and I question the ethics of such intense contact by adults and sometimes strangers of a vulnerable population.

All the best.
Jason Guay

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