Girl on a swing

S.L. is on the Moon Swing holding tight while swinging to improve her muscle tone, strength, and balance which is improving her motor coordination, safety, and confidence.

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  • M - W - F : 10:00 am - 7:00 pm
  • T - Th : 10:30 am - 7:30 pm
  • Sa : 9:00 am - 5:00 pm

Glossary of commonly used Occupational Therapy Terms

Adaptive Response
An action that appropriately and successfully meets an environmental demand. Adaptive responses demonstrate adequate sensory integration and drive all learning and social interactions.
The hearing sense which allows us to hear, perceive, and process sound.
Auditory Figure-Ground
The ability to discriminate between sounds in the foreground and background, allowing us to focus on a specific sound or voice without being distracted by other sounds.
Auditory Perception
The ability to receive, identify, discriminate, understand, and respond to sounds.
Bilateral Coordination
The ability to use both sides of the body together in a smooth, simultaneous, and coordinated manner.
Bilateral Integration
The neurological process of integrating sensations from both body sides; the foundation for bilateral coordination.
Binocularity (Binocular Vision; Eye Teaming)
Forming a single visual image from two images that the eyes separately record.
Body Awareness
The mental picture of one’s own body parts, where they are, how they relate to each other, and how they move.
All muscle groups surrounding a joint contracting and “working” together to provide joint stability which results in the ability to maintain a position.
Depth Perception
The ability to see objects in three dimensional and to judge distances between objects, or between oneself and objects.
The awareness of right/left, forward/back, and up/down, and the ability to understand and move in those directions.
Discriminative System
The ability to distinguish differences among different sensory stimuli.
Deficient motor planning that is often related to a decrease in sensory processing. Motor planning is the ability to conceive, plan, and carry out a skilled, non-habitual motor act in the correct sequence from beginning to end. Incoming sensory stimuli must be correctly integrated in order to form the basis for appropriate, coordinated motor responses. The ability to motor plan is a learned ability which is generalized to all unfamiliar tasks so a child does not need to consciously figure out each new task he or she faces. The child with motor planning difficulties may be slow in carrying out verbal instructions and often appears clumsy in new tasks.
Eye-Hand Coordination
The efficient teamwork of the eyes and hands, necessary for activities such as playing with toys, throwing and catching a ball, dressing, and writing.
Balance and balance reactions.
A straightening action of a joint or joints (neck, back, arms, legs).
Fight-Or-Flight Response
The instinctive reaction to defend oneself from real or perceived danger by either fighting or withdrawing.
Fine Motor
Movement of the smaller muscles in the fingers, toes, eyes, and tongue.
Fine Motor Skills
The dexterity and skilled use of hands to move the hands and fingers in a smooth, precise and controlled manner. Fine motor control is necessary for efficient handling of classroom tools and materials such as pencils, crayons, and scissors and in daily living skills such as buttoning, snapping, tying shoes, and manipulating objects.
Aiming one’s eye or eyes at an object or shifting gaze from one object to another.
Bending the body, body part, or joint.
Accommodation of visual gaze smoothly between near and distant objects.
Form Constancy
Recognition of a shape regardless of its size, position, or texture.
Gravitational Insecurity
Fear and anxiety in response to movement, a change in head position, or being higher above the ground.
Gross Motor
Movements of the large muscles of the body.
Gross Motor Skills
Coordinated body movements involving the large muscle groups of the body such as crawling, climbing, walking, hopping, jumping, and running.
The neurological process of tuning out familiar sensation.
Hand Preference
Right or left handedness, which becomes established in a child as lateralization of the cerebral hemispheres develops
Hypersensitivity (also Hyper-reactivity or Hyper-responsiveness)
Oversensitivity to sensory stimuli, characterized by a tendency to be uncomfortable, avoid, or withdraw from the sensation such as touch, sound, movement, smell, or taste.
Inner Drive
Self-motivation to participate actively in experiences that promote sensory integration and mastery of an activity.
The ability to combine and pull together various aspects, sensations, or experiences to form meaningful and successful responses and adaptations.
The sense of conscious awareness of joint position and body movement in space, such as knowing where to place one’s feet when climbing stairs, without visual cues. An awareness of the direction, strength, and speed of body movements.
The process of establishing preference of one side of the brain for directing skilled motor function on the opposite side of the body, while the opposing side is used for stabilization. Lateralization is necessary for crossing midline and establishing hand preference.
Linear movement
Motion in a line, from front to back, side to side, or up and down.
Low Tone
The lack of adequate supportive muscle tone, usually with increased mobility at the joints tending to a looseness or floppiness in posture or movement.
A median line dividing the two halves of the body. Crossing the midline is the ability to use one side of part of the body (hand, foot, or eye) in the space of the other side or part.
The brain’s ability to regulate its own activity which requires the internal ability to modulate a balance between neural inhibition and facilitation in order to stay regulated in behavior or to regulate force of movement.
Motor Control
The ability to regulate and monitor the motions of one’s muscle group to work together harmoniously to perform skilled movements.
Motor Coordination
The result of adequate motor planning, sensory feedback, and ability of several muscles or muscle groups to work together to perform skilled movement.
Motor Planning
The ability to conceive, organize, sequence, and carry out an unfamiliar and complex body movement in a coordinated manner, a piece of praxis. This includes developing an idea, planning the action, and executing the motor action.
Muscle Tone
The degree of muscle tension normally present when muscles are relaxed, or in a resting state.
Up and down or to and fro linear movement, such as swinging, bouncing, and jumping.
The meaning and, understanding, and relationship of sensory input.
The ability of the brain to change, adapt, or to be changed as a result of activity and stimulation.
Position in Space
Awareness of the spatial orientation of letters, words, numbers, or drawings on a page, or of an object in the environment.
Postural Adjustments
The ability to shift one’s body in order to change position for a task or postural demand.
Postural Insecurity
Fear of body movements that is related to poor balance and postural control, and deficient "body-in-space" awareness.
Postural Stability
The ability to maintain the body in a position to efficiently complete a task or demand.
The ability to interact successfully with the physical environment to plan, organize, and carry out a sequence of unfamiliar or new movements or actions (motor planning). This includes having an idea, planning the action, and executing the action.
A horizontal position of the body where the face is positioned downward.
The position sense including the unconscious awareness of sensations coming from joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments.
Sensory Avoider
Stays away from sensory input such as touch, movement, sound, smell, and taste. This can interfere in daily life in social environments, the classroom, amusement parks, sports games, crowded areas, parties, dining out, and eating a variety of foods.
Receptive Language
The ability to understand how words express ideas and feelings; language that one takes in by listening and reading.
Rotary Movement
Turning or spinning in circles.
Self-Help Skills
Competence in taking care of personal needs, such as bathing, dressing, eating, grooming, and studying.
The ability to control one’s activity level and state of alertness, as well as one’s emotional or physical responses to senses; self organization.
Taking in sensory information and responding with a physical response.
Sensory Defensiveness
Uncomfortable or negative response to sensory input, reflecting severe over-reactions or a low threshold to a specific sensory input. Overreaction may include responses to touch, sound, movement, smell, taste, vision, temperature, or pain.
Sensory Diet
The multisensory experiences that one normally seeks on a daily basis to satisfy one’s sensory needs. An Occupational Therapist may plan a scheduled activity program help a person become more self-regulated and to maintain an optimal level of arousal.
Sensory Input
The flow of information from sensory receptors in the body and environment to the brain and spinal cord.
Sensory Integration
The ability to take in information from one’s body and environment, process the information, and respond functionally and appropriately. This process enables us to recognize, use and organize everyday sensory information in order to interact effectively with our environment. Sensory integration is part of the foundation for learning and the acquisition and development of coordination, gross motor and fine motor skills, motor planning, attention, and behavior.
Sensory Integration Dysfunction
The inefficient neurological processing of information received through the senses, causing problems with learning, coordination, development, and/or behavior.
Sensory Integration Treatment
An Occupational Therapy therapeutic approach, which provides playful, meaningful activities that enhance an individual’s sensory processing, modulation, and responses lead to more adaptive and successful functioning in daily life.
Sensory Modulation
Neurological function that organizes and regulates sensory information for appropriate use and response. Maintenance of the arousal state at the best level to generate appropriate emotional responses, sustain attention, develop appropriate activity level and move skillfully.
Sensory Orientation
Selective attention to a sensory stimulus, supporting our inner drive to engage with the stimulus, respond and learn.
Sensory Processing Skills
The ability to receive and process information from the sensory systems including touch (tactile), visual, auditory (hearing), proprioceptive (body position), vestibular (balance), taste, smell, temperature, and pain. Behavior, attention and interactions are greatly influence by the ability to process sensory stimuli.
Sensory Registration
Initial awareness of a single sensory input and assigning attention, value and emotional tone to the stimulus.
Sensory Seeking
Increased need or craving for more intense sensory input such as touch, movement, input to muscles and joints, smell, and taste. Individual may be in frequent movement, such as jumping, 'crashing', spinning, or touching, smelling or tasting objects, etc.
Sensory Threshold
Individual neural responses to sensory input and how much or little input is needed to respond. The point at which the summation of sensory input activates the central nervous system. The mechanism that drives our reactions to sensory input and whether we over-react or under-register the input.
Tactile (touch), proprioception (muscles and joints), or vestibular (gravity and movement) perception and body position.
Spatial Awareness
The perception of one’s proximity to, distance from, or direction from an object, as well as the perception of the relationship of one’s body parts.
Rotary Movement
Turning or spinning in circles.
A horizontal body position where the face is positioned upward.
The sense of touch and various qualities attributed to touch including detecting pressure, temperature, light touch, pain, and discriminative touch.
Tactile Defensiveness
The tendency to react negatively and emotionally to unexpected, light touch.
Following a moving object or a line of print with the eyes.
The sense of movement and the pull of gravity, related to our body and movement through space.
Vestibular Sense
The sensory system that responds to changes in head position, gravity, and to body movement through space, and that coordinates movements of the eyes, head, and body, muscle tone, equilibrium, and attention. Receptors are the inner ear.
Visual Discrimination
Differentiating among symbols and forms, such as matching or separating colors, shapes, numbers, letters, and words.
Visual Figure-Ground
Differentiation between objects in the foreground and in the background.
Visual Motor Skills
The ability to visually take in information, process it, and be able to coordinate physical movement in relation to what has been viewed. It involves the combination of visual perception and motor coordination. Difficulty with visual motor skills can result in inaccurate reaching, pointing, and grasping of objects, as well as difficulty with copying, drawing, tracing, and cutting.
The ability to perceive and interpret what the eyes see.
Visual Perception Skills
The ability to interpret and use what is seen in the environment. Difficulties in this area can interfere with the ability to learn self-help skills like tying shoelaces, academic tasks like copying from the blackboard, finding items in a busy background, or driving.
Visual-Spatial Processing Skills
Perceptions based on sensory information received through the eyes and body when interacting with the environment and moving the body through space. Includes depth perception, directionality, form constancy, position in space, spatial awareness, visual discrimination, and visual figure-ground perception.

Occupational Therapy helps children and adults with sensory issues improve their ability to process sensory information to enhance their comfort, behavior, emotions, coordination, and interaction with others and their environment.

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