Sensory Motor Integration for Life and Education
A Physical Therapy Approach for Children With Movement and Learning Challenges
SMILE is a systematic and holistic physical therapy approach that builds the core foundations of movement. The three levels of the SMILE approach are align, activate and integrate. These three pillars work as a sequence of increasing sensory-motor complexity to build a strong foundation. As a child works through each stage, more advanced developmental skills for learning and daily life develop with more spontaneity and with greater ease.
Level 1: ALIGN
Actively align your body or your child’s body for maximal activation and to set the stage for optimal sensory-motor function.
- POSTURAL SYMMETRY
Learn how to assess and treat your child’s underlying postural differences in a child friendly and comfy manner. Give your child the freedom to move from the inner core out symmetrically in all directions.
- POSTURAL ALIGNMENT
Learn how to align the body in sitting and standing in order to access deep breathing, for balance, sensory regulation, and motor control. This stage will give the child access to their inner core.
Level 2: ACTIVATE
Inner core and reactive core systems are now prepared to be activated and strengthened for the postural control foundations to develop. Many spontaneous changes have occurred in response to Level 1. It’s time to take things to the next level.
At this level we build sensory and dynamic challenges combined with the breath to build postural control within the new midline.
Strength will be built using synergistic movement patterns to use the body’s natural systems to create rapid change in movement patterns that are used everyday.
Level 3: INTEGRATE
At this stage, the child has developed symmetry and postural control. It is time to focus on connections. The sensory and motor systems need to work together as a team.
Exercises that connect the eyes with the sensory-motor movement systems will be used to integrate the systems at this level.
The treadmill, with or without support, will be used to integrate the eyes with posture to fuse the visual systems, develop automaticity of the sensory-motor systems, develop multi-tasking skills, and to develop spatial skills to a high level.
During this level we can integrate academic skills into the program and focus on executive functioning and educational goals. This level can be carried over by other therapists, educators, and parents to continue to introduce their own academic goals into the program.