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Outdoor Education: Children Develop Sensory Integration Skills

Outdoor Education: Children Develop Sensory Integration Skills
Angela Hanscom had no intention of working after her second daughter, Charlotte, was born. After working as a pediatric occupational therapist for six years, Hanscom was ready to stay home and raise Charlotte along with her oldest daughter, Joelle.

That didn't stop the world of occupational therapy from chasing her.

Occasionally working with patients from home, Hanscom noticed many of the children had problems fidgeting or exhibited poor balance. Her friends told her their children had poor spatial awareness. She heard from teachers that kids couldn't pay attention in class and would consistently fall out of their chairs.

All of a sudden, it seemed like every kid needed occupational therapy.

“People just started coming up to me and being like, 'why is my kid spinning in circles all the time,'” Hanscom said. “I just realized that more and more kids needed OT, which was really weird.”

That's when Hanscom noticed children weren't playing outdoors anymore.

Hanscom said playing and moving outdoors is critical to a child's development. Simply playing in the mud and catching frogs, for example, develops strong sensory integration. Rolling down hills or climbing trees develops one's vestibular system. Even something as simple as listening to birds chirping in the distance helps with orienting body space.

It clicked: Children are suffering sensory problems because they aren't outside enough.

Using her experience in pediatric occupation therapy and her background in kinesiology, she set out to create a program that placed children…
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