Sensory Learning Program Helps Autism, ADD and Sensory Disorders




Imagine lying in a warm, fuzzy nest of pillows that rotates up and down while gazing at a light and listening to gentle music. You begin to feel at ease for the first time in a long time. Now, imagine that this process is helping you organize your brain, so you can think more clearly, learn more easily and feel more connected to the world around you.

Welcome to the Sensory Learning Program at Arizona Vision Therapy Center. This revolutionary program was originally created to help children with autism learn how to integrate their senses, so they could function in busy environments. However, it was soon discovered that even more people could benefit from the effects of the treatment. The noninvasive program has benefited individuals with autism and other developmental delays, attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), anxiety and symptoms caused by brain injury.

This program simultaneously integrates the senses to include hearing, vision, balance and awareness of body. Through the use of passive light, sound and movement therapy that takes place on a therapeutic bed, the program helps children integrate the sensory messages they receive through sight, sound and their body. The intervention lasts for 30 consecutive days and typically is only performed once due to its long-lasting and long-reaching effects. The program is split into 12 days in-office and 18 days at home.

“If one of the senses is either over- or under-responsive to stimulation, it can create an imbalance in the entire brain. This makes it hard for a person to feel comfortable in most environments that have noisy, bright or overwhelming stimuli. These people tend to want to avoid or suppress these stimuli, which can lead to problems with social interactions,” says Dr. Amy Thomas. “When the senses start to synchronize, the world starts to make more sense and becomes less overwhelming.”

The visual feature of the program is intended to stir reactions in the brain. For the first two days, the person lies on the table and looks up into the light as it projects the color magenta. Magenta is known as a soothing color that helps calm the brain and help the person “take stock” of their brain and body. The program progresses through the color spectrum. Each color brings about a reaction from the brain. For instance, red helps to improve energy levels. Green helps the body learn how to detox more efficiently. Aqua helps calm down inflammation. Finally, violet helps people work through emotions and helps stimulate verbal expression areas in the brain.

The auditory and visual systems stimulate the brain at a very fundamental level, especially in the hypothalamus. This means that it can change the reflexive aspects of the body, such as temperature and heart rate.

The vestibular system works with the cerebellum for smooth movement. “If your vestibular system isn’t working well, you’ll have a lot of balance issues and problems understanding spatial concepts like math,” explains Thomas.

Once a disordered visual or vestibular system has been restored, handwriting may improve. Furthermore, pairing the auditory system with the vestibular system helps a person maintain rhythm and locate the direction of a sound. It also helps with the sequencing of movements that are necessary to make sounds into speech.  

After 12 days of sessions, patients go home with a portable light instrument to continue the program, with a 20-minute session each morning and evening in a darkened room for the next 18 days. This helps solidify the emotional and physical advances learned in the in-office program. Benefits include improved perception, learning abilities, processing time, sleep patterns, awareness and attention, speech, memory and social skills.

Arizona Vision Therapy Center is located at 6602 E. Carondelet Dr., Tucson. For more information on this program or to book an appointment for a trial session, call 520-886-8800, email VisionTherapy@live.com or visit AZVisionTherapy.com. See ad, page 29.

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