Pediatric Occupational Therapy Terms; Q-Z


An OT must graduate with a Masters’ level degree or higher from an accredited institution and be registered with the National Board Certification for Occupational Therapy and be licensed in the state of which they practice

Quality of Life
A measure of satisfaction with one’s life in the activities in which they do. Quality enrichment methods can include activities that reduce boredom and allow a maximum amount of freedom in choosing and performing various tasks

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 one’s personal needs, such as bathing, dressing, eating, grooming, and studying. Also referred to as Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)

The ability to control one’s activity level and state of alertness, as well as one’s emotional, mental or physical responses to senses; self-organization

Taking in sensory information and responding with a physical response

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

Sensory Defensiveness
Uncomfortable or negative response to sensory input, reflecting severe overreactions 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 appetite; a planned and scheduled activity program that an occupational therapist develops to help a person become more self-regulated

Sensory Discrimination
The ability to perceive various aspects of sensation (light, touch, texture, smell, taste, etc.)

Sensory Dormancy
A child’s behavior in response to sensory input, reflecting under-responsiveness or a high threshold to a specific sensory input

Sensory Input
The constant flow of information from sensory receptors in the body to the brain and spinal cord

Sensory Integration Dysfunction
The inefficient neurological processing of information received through the senses, causing problems with learning, coordination, development, and/or behavior

Sensory Integration
The ability to receive, process and act upon sensory input for “use”. This “use” may be a perception, an adaptive response or a learning process. Through sensory integration many different parts of the nervous system work together so that a person can interact with the environment efficiently

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 one’s sensory systems including touch (tactile), visual, auditory (hearing), proprioceptive (body position) and vestibular (balance). Behavior, attention and peer interactions are greatly influenced by the child’s 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), proprioceptive (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

Spatial Relations
Relationship of the skeletal parts of the body to each other and to objects in the environment

A horizontal body position where the face is positioned upward

Refers to the sense of touch and various qualities attributed to touch, including detecting pressure, temperature, light touch, pain, discriminative touch

Tactile Defensiveness

The tendency to react negatively and emotionally to unexpected, light touch

Therapeutic Listening
A therapy technique; the use of modulated and filtered music during S.I. therapy to promote regulation and praxis, as devised and instructed by Sheila Frick, OTR

Following a moving object or a line of print with the eyes

Often considered to be one of the basic taste sensations along with sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. Can be used to assess oral sensory seeking or avoiding behaviors

Refers to our sense of movement and the pull of gravity, related to our body

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

Vestibular System
Our inner gyroscope that detects the sense of movement head movement and our response to gravity to help develop a sense of spatial relationships. Our inner drive is to keep the body in an upright position. Any input to this primitive system can last up to 6 hours in the nervous system, so parents and therapist must use caution when applying this powerful input

Visual Closure

The ability to visualize a complete whole when given incomplete information or a partial picture. This skill helps children read and comprehend quickly; their eyes don’t have to individually process every letter in every word for them to quickly recognize the word by sight

Visual Discrimination
Differentiating among symbols and forms, such as matching or separating colors, shapes, numbers, letters, and words

Visual Figure Ground
The ability to perceive and locate a form or object within a field without getting confused by the background or surrounding images. This skill keeps children from getting lost in details

Visual Form Constancy

The ability to mentally manipulate forms and visualize the resulting outcomes. This skill helps children distinguish differences in size, shape, and orientation. Children with poor form-constancy may frequently reverse letters and numbers

Visual Memory
The ability to remember for immediate recall the characteristics of a given object or form. This skill helps children remember what they read and see by adequately processing information through their short-term memory, from where it is filtered out into the long-term memory

Visual Motor
Referring to one’s movements based on the perception of visual information

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

Visual Perception
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 Sequential Memory
The ability to remember forms or characters in correct order. This skill is particularly important in spelling

Visual Spatial Relations
The ability to distinguish differences among similar objects or forms. This skill helps children in understanding relationships and recognizing underlying concepts

The ability to perceive and interpret what the eyes see

Visual-Spatial Processing Skills
Perceptions based on sensory information received through the eyes and body as one interacts with the environment and moves one’s body through space. Including depth perception, directionality, form constancy, position in space, spatial awareness, visual discrimination, visual figure-ground

Weighted Vest
A wearable vest filled with weights designed to calm children with sensory challenges by providing them with the pressure they are seeking

Wrist Extension
An upward or downward motion of the wrist elicited through activities such as writing and coloring

Fragile X Syndrome

A genetic syndrome characterized by prominent physical features, developmental delays, and delay of developmental milestones and speech development

A series of stretches and poses that develop flexibility, strength, and deeper breathing techniques which promote physical and mental well-being

Zoom Ball
A gross motor game designed for kids that improves upper extremity coordination and arm and hand strength, as well as visual motor skills