Alertness (Arousal) – Our ability to attend, learn, and behave appropriately is dependent, in part, on our state of arousal or alertness. Usually our state of arousal is low as we wake up and rises as we get up and move about. In an alert state we are best able to attend and learn. Movement of various kinds is key to helping children maintain optimal states of arousal and include the use of a pillow pit, trampoline and swings.

Apraxia – The lack of motor planning or praxis.

Asperger’s Syndrome – A disorder similar to autism in that both children with autism and aspergers syndrome have major impairments in social interaction, and show atypical repetitive, restricted, and stereotyped patterns of behavior. The child with Aspergers Syndrome may show signs of sensory problems. Unlike autism, the child with Aspergers Syndrome does not present a delay in language, cognitive, or self-help abilities, but may develop gross and fine motor delays, be physically clumsy, and have special skills, such as extraordinary mathematical abilities or read at an early age.

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) – These children generally have problems paying attention or concentrating, can’t seem to follow directions, and are easily bored and/or frustrated with tasks. They also tend to move constantly and are impulsive (do not think before they act). Although these behaviors are in general common in children, they occur more often than usual and are more severe in a child with ADHD. These behaviors interfere with the child’s ability to function at school and at home.

Autistic Disorder – One of the five pervasive developmental disorders (PDDs), that may range from mild to severe. In order to be diagnosed as autistic, a child must exhibit significant impairment in social interactions and resposiveness, communication, and behaviors, interests, and activities.

Symptoms with onset before age three:

Social Interactions and Responsiveness

  • Extreme impairment in using and reading nonverbal social behaviors
  • Failure to develop age-appropriate peer relationships
  • Lack of spontaneous sharing of enjoyment, interests, or achievements with others
  • Lack of emotional and social reciprocity


  • Delay or complete lack of spoken language, without using gestures or mimicry to compensate
  • If speech is present, it is minimal, immature, and unspontaneous with inability to start or continue conversations; may be highly repetitive or have an unusual tone, volume or pitch; may be quite concrete,without ability to understand or use abstraction or metaphors
  • Lack of spontaneous make-believe or social imitation play

Behaviors, Interests, and Activities

  • Intense, unwavering interest in one or just a few topics
  • Rigid adherence to nonfunctional routines or rituals
  • Repetitive physical mannerisms, such as hand flapping or rocking
  • Preoccupation with parts of objects, such as the wheels on a toy truck

Bilateral integration – The brain’s ability to allow its right and left sides to work together; for example, walking or riding a bike.

Brachial Plexus Palsy (Erb’s Palsy)– The brachial plexus is a network of nerves that conducts signals from the spine to the shoulder, arm, and hand. Brachial plexus injuries are caused by damage to those nerves. Symptoms may include a limp or paralyzed arm, lack of muscle control in the arm, hand, or wrist, and lack of feeling or sensation in the arm or hand. Although injuries can occur at any time, many brachial plexus injuries happen during birth: the baby’s shoulders may become impacted during the birth process causing the brachial plexus nerves to stretch or tear.

Delayed myelination – A wide variety of abnormalities. The causes of delayed myelination include congenital malformations, chromosomal, metabolic and degenerative disorders.

Dyspraxia – Poor motor planning or praxis, organization, and physical movement; a less severe but more common dysfunction than apraxia (the lack of praxis).

Dystonia – Term for a group of neurological disorders in which involuntary muscle spasm leads to abnormal movements and postures.

Gravitational insecurity – An unusual degree of anxiety or fear about movement or change in head position; related to poor proprioceptive and vestibular information processing.

Hemiparesis – Weakness of muscle on one side of the body, resulting in partial loss of function.

Hemiplegia – Condition affecting one side of the body.

Hypotonia – A condition in which there is a loss or diminish of muscle tone (floppy), in consequence of which the muscles may be stretched beyond their normal limits.

Modulation – The brain’s regulation of its own activity. Involves facilitating neural messages to maximize a response and inhibit other messages to reduce irrelevant activity.

Motor Coordination Disorder – Symptoms may include problems with balance, including motion sickness or when learning to ride a bicycle; co-ordination difficulties e.g. learning to tie shoelaces or doing up buttons. Other symptoms include the control of eye movements (reading) or hand-eye co-ordination (writing).

Motor planning (Praxis)– The ability of the brain to conceive, organize, and carry out a sequence of unfamiliar actions. Also the ability to perform movements in a smooth coordinated manner. Children may have to think through the task first but then be able to perform it automatically; for example, writing, skipping, riding a bike.

Muscle tone – The firmness of muscles; increase or decrease in muscle tone affects posture.

Nystagmus – A series of back and forth eye movements produced by rotary movement followed by an abrupt stop. The length and regularity of nystagmus is an indicator of an aspect of vestibular system efficiency.

Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) – a group of conditions, including Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome, that involve delays in the development of many basic skills, most notably the ability to socialize with others, to communicate and to use imagination.

Pervasive Developmental Disorder-NOS (PDD-NOS) – a catchall diagnosis used when there is severe and pervasive impairment in social interaction, verbal or nonverbal communication, or when stereotyped behavior, interests, and activities are present, but the criteria are not fully met for other diagnoses, or if impairment begins after age three.

Plagiocephaly – Refers to the condition characterized by a parallelogram head shape and a persistent flatten spot on the back or one side of the head. Plagiocephaly can result from the premature fusion of one of the coronal or lambdoid sutures (craniosynostosis) or from external deformation (referred to a positional or deformation plagiocephaly). Plagiocephaly is particularly common among infants with Torticollis.

Postural balance – Subtle spontaneous adjustments to maintain body position; for example, being able to stand on one leg.

Proprioceptive input – Information from the muscles and joints about position, weight, or pressure, stretch, movement, and changes of position in space.

Sensory defensiveness – A tendency to react negatively to sensory input that is generally considered harmless or nonirritating. May include oversensitivity to touch, movement, noises, and other sensations.

Sensory integration – The process of organizing and processing sensory information received from the body and environment in order to make appropriate goal-directed responses.

Sensory Integration Dysfunction/Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) – It is a complex disorder of the brain; children with SPD misinterpret everyday sensory information, such as touch, sound, and movement. This can lead to behavioral problems, difficulties with coordination, and many other issues.

Tactile input – Information about the environment from the touch receptors in the skin.

Tactile defensiveness – Over sensitivity to touch by objects and/or people in their environment, negative reaction to touch. It is associated with distractibility, restlessness, and behavioral problems.

Torticollis – a term that describes asymmetrical posturing of the head and neck. The majority of children who present with torticollis during the first year of life have congenital muscular torticollis (CMT) secondary to unilateral fibrosis of the sternocleidomastoid muscle and secondary muscular tightness involving the head and neck. There is no known etiology for congenital muscular torticollis; however, supposition suggests there to be a neurological basis to the disorder that involves the vestibular and postural mechanisms. A traumatic torticollis unlike a congenital torticollis is associated with a tear in the sternocleidomastoid muscle that can occur during delivery. This differs from the congenital torticollis and is sometimes associated with a nodule in the muscle, due to slight bleeding. Both types of torticollis respond well to therapeutic intervention.

Vestibular input – Information from the inner ear about equilibrium (state of balance), gravity, accelerated or decelerated movement, and changes of position in space.