LEVEL FOUR (ACADEMIC READINESS)
The end products of all of this integration are academic skills (including abstract thought and reasoning), complex motor skills, regulation of attention, organization of behavior, specialization of each side of the body and the brain, visualization, self-esteem, and self-control.
These abilities become increasingly sophisticated. By the age of six, the child’s brain is mature enough to specialize. Specialization (the process where one brain part becomes most efficient at a particular function) means that the child becomes more efficient and purposeful in his actions. His eyes and ears are prepared to take over as the primary “teachers”.
His tactile discrimination improves; he can suppress reflexive responses to touch sensations. On a wintry day, he can ignore the minor discomfort of an itchy hat and concentrate on making a snowball. He can tell the difference between a friendly pat and an aggressive punch.
His proprioceptive sense, in tandem with his vestibular and tactile senses, strengthens his motor coordinatin. His gross motor skills are smooth: he can jump and run and play with his friends.
His fine motor skills are good: he can button, zip, and spin a top. He consistently prefers to use one hand, more than the other for tool use. He controls a pencil or crayon to make recognizable shapes and symbols.
He can visualize past and future situations: yesterday’s ball game and tonight’s bath. Visualization helps him picture pretend and real images: make-believe monsters and Mommy’s reassuring face.
He is socially competent, able to share ideas and toys, to be flexible when things don’t go his way, to empathize with others when things don’t go their way, to play by the rules, to be a reliable friend.
The child will continue to improve his sensory integration “building” throughout his life. As he encounters different situations and new challenges, he learns to make adaptations in meaningful ways. Feeling good about himself, he is ready for school.