Sensory Integration and Occupational Therapy FAQs

Santa Barbara Occupational Therapy FAQs

What is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational therapy is a profession that helps people participate fully in their daily activities (occupations). For children, an occupational therapist may help with activities that require fine motor, self-help, motor planning, self-regulation or attention skills, including writing, self-feeding, and fastening clothing (to learn more, click here).

What is Sensory Integration?

Sensory integration is a specialized neurological treatment approach that helps children’s brains better make sense of the information that they receive through their senses in order to respond to the demands of the environment more appropriately and successfully.

What is Sensory Processing?

Sensory processing refers to how we make sense of the sensory information coming into our bodies and make a response that fits in with our environment.

What is an Adaptive Response?

An adaptive response is a purposeful, goal-directed response to a sensory experience.

What is Child-Directed Activity?

Child-directed activity looks like the child is simply playing. In actuality, the therapist sets up the environment and structures, directs or expands the child’s play while tapping into the inner drive necessary for organization of the nervous system.

What is Motor Planning?

Motor planning is a component of praxis although the terms are often used interchangeably. Praxis consists of ideation (coming up with an idea of what one wants to do), motor planning (organizing one’s body to complete a sequence of movements) and execution (physically carrying out the motor act). A child with motor planning difficulties often appears clumsy or uncoordinated, particularly during novel or new tasks.

What is Self-Regulation?

Self-regulation is the ability to maintain one’s body at an optimal level of alertness appropriate to a given activity and environment.

What is the “Just Right” place for kids to learn?

Our bodies need to be at an optimal level of arousal for us to sit and pay attention in order to learn new ideas. Finding the place where a child is alert and ready to learn but not overactive is the challenge we all face.

What is Over-Responsiveness?

Over-responsiveness or over-arousal means that our nervous systems are stressed and need to be calmed down. Slow, linear (such as swinging back and forth in a straight line), rhythmic input is calming to most children.

What is Under-Responsiveness?

Under-responsiveness or low arousal means that our nervous systems are sluggish and need to be woken up. Fast, erratic, rotary (such as spinning on a single axis) input increases alertness in most children.

How long do treatments take?

Each session lasts 50 minutes. The length of treatment is based on areas of weakness and goals written. At OT Arts, most goals are written for six months. At that time, the family and occupational therapist review the goals to determine if they have been met and decide together to terminate treatment or write new goals.


Lisa Serby was highly recommended to me by a child psychologist that was assessing my daughter for anxiety and motor delays. My daughter has been receiving OT services with Lisa for 8 months, and we have seen immense progress with her motor planning/coordination issues, as well as her pencil grasp and toe walking. My daughter had an immediate connection with Lisa, due to her calm, approachable demeanor, and she truly looks forward to going to her weekly sessions. We are so grateful for Lisa and this early intervention option which will give my daughter increased ability and confidence for kindergarten this Fall.