Sensorimotor stage

• has a heart condition

• may have swallowed poisons or medications

If the child is breathing normally and the seizure lasts just a few minutes, a doctor can be consulted after the seizure is over. However, if the child has never had a seizure before, parents should seek help right away. For children prone to seizures, parents should call emergency services if the seizure lasts more than five minutes, or if the seizure differs from normal occurrences.

After the seizure, it is normal for a child to fall into a deep sleep. Parents should not wake the child nor try to give food or drink until the child is awake and alert. Children who get febrile seizures may be given fever-reducing medicine (such as ibuprofen) to control the fever and prevent seizures from recurring. A doctor may also recommend sponging the child with lukewarm water.

sensorimotor stage A developmental stage in which a child has little ability with language or the use of symbols but experiences the world through sensation and movement. The first of four stages in child psychiatrist Jean Piaget's theory of cognitive development, the sensorimotor stage lasts from birth to about age two.

Infants are normally born with a range of reflexes that ensure their survival, such as sucking and grasping. As the infant adapts these reflexes over time, the child can begin to interact with the environment with greater efficiency. By the end of this stage, the child is able to solve simple problems, such as looking for a lost toy or communicating simple needs to a parent or another child. It is also during this stage that the infant develops a sense of object permanence—the awareness that things and people continue to exist even when they cannot be perceived.

For example, before the age of two if a parent hides a toy under a pillow in front of the child, the child will not understand that the toy still exists under the pillow. once a sense of object permanence is developed, the child will understand that the toy hidden under the pillow still exists and will lift up the pillow to retrieve the toy.

Modern technology was not available in Piaget's time, so he often used motor tasks to test the cognitive understanding of an infant. with the avail ability of more advanced techniques that can track an infant's eye movements or rate of sucking in response to stimuli, researchers now know that infants reach cognitive milestones such as object permanence at a younger age than Piaget had suspected. However, Piaget's view of the infant as a "little scientist" who comes to understand the world through trial and error experiments remains consistent with recent findings.

sensory integration The process of taking in sensory information, organizing this information in the central nervous system, and using the information to function smoothly in daily life. Sensory integration is a continual process: As children become more competent, their sensory integration improves, so that the more children do, the more they can do. Sensory experiences include touch, movement, body awareness, sight, sound, and the pull of gravity; as the brain organizes and interprets this information, it provides a crucial foundation for later, more complex learning and behavior. This critical function of the brain is responsible for producing a composite picture of a child's existence, so that the child can understand who he is physically, where he is, and what is going on in the environment around him.

For most children, effective sensory integration occurs automatically and unconsciously, without effort, in the course of ordinary childhood activities. But for some children, sensory integration does not develop as efficiently as it should. When the process breaks down, a number of problems in learning, development, or behavior may develop.

The concept of sensory integration comes from a body of work developed by occupational therapist A. Jean Ayres, Ph.D., who was interested in the way in which sensory processing and motor planning disorders interfere with daily life function and learning. This theory has been developed and refined by the research of Dr. Ayres, as well as other occupational and physical therapists. In addition, literature from the fields of neuropsychology, neurology, physiology, child development, and psychology has contributed to theory development and treatment strategies.

Children with sensory integration problems may be bright, but they may have trouble using a

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