The approach of an occupational therapist:
When the occupational therapist looks at learning, it is very important to remember that there is certain development that must precede the learning process. It is also important to remember that “learning is a function of the brain”.
The occupational therapist is of the opinion that a child must be encouraged and assisted to develop the brain’s capability to learn things, not merely to learn certain skills or competencies, for example to fit visual stimuli, remember sounds in the correct order or to draw a line from one point to another.
The brain has the capability to observe, remember, plan and execute it on motor level. It can be utilised to later master any other academically activity (regardless of the contents).
Research shows that a child develops in a definite neurological order and it doesn’t help that one teaches a child to
work something out cognitively or intellectually, because it is more important to observe how a child’s brain integrates sensory stimuli.
An example of this is when you teach a child where his left and right arms are, and he knows it, it is not to say that he has a good inner experience of the two sides of the body and can integrate it.
The concept of successive or a definite order of development then becomes of cardinal importance to the Occupational Therapist, as well as dynamic interaction between the various levels. Every step in the order of development is dependent upon the degree of maturity or ripening of the previous steps. The importance of this early in the life of the child cannot be emphasised enough.
Sensory integration is a prerequisite to effective learning.