It has been said that there’s nothing new under the sun—but since December, SensoryWellness in Rochelle Park has been providing occupational therapy services that are nearly impossible to find anywhere in the country. SensoryWellness specializes in treating adults and teenagers with sensory processing dysfunction.
Founder Danielle Amster, OTR, a Passaic resident, has been an occupational therapist for over 15 years. She worked in a number of school systems in New Jersey and New York and in early intervention before joining a pediatric sensory-based practice. While there, she was constantly approached by adults who were experiencing similar symptoms and functional issues that she helped children overcome. She began working with adults and teenagers in the pediatric practice, but found that it was not ideal. She jokingly says that the problem was “big people, little chairs,” referring to the equipment and sensory gyms that had been designed for children. Furthermore, the juvenile feeling of the office presented a problem for parents who were looking for help for teens dealing with learning difficulties, or social and emotional issues. “They knew there was no way they were going to get a teenager into a kiddie place,” she says. Seeing a real need for a more mature occupational therapy environment, Amster began to research and found that this sort of practice is almost non-existent.
Both Amster and a male occupational therapist are available to help teenagers with any number of issues; she sees teens who have difficulty navigating the social world, are easily distracted, have learning disabilities, AD(H)D, anxiety, or difficulty getting themselves organized. She adds that many teens who are living with these issues have often sought out other resources, such as psychologists or education specialists, but that her approach tackles the issues from a different angle. “If your eyes aren’t working well, or you can’t sit properly, it’s going to be hard to learn,” she says. “We have to get down the basics of how someone’s body is working in order to get to the level of handling what comes next.”
Adults, too, can benefit from retraining their bodies. In fact, Amster has many clients who have been referred to her by their mental health professionals because they need to get their bodies into a better pattern in order for counseling to be effective. SensoryWellness sees adult patients who are experiencing basic sensory issues—such as an aversion to being touched, a fear of heights, and marital intimacy issues—as well as those who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and panic disorders.
The single most important thing that Amster wants people to understand is that it’s never too late to conquer the issues plaguing us. “There is a misconception that you can only change these things when you’re a child, but the reality is that our bodies are capable of making change at any age,” she says. “While there are other specialists who will help people cope with their individual issues, SensoryWellness is unique because it focuses on creating change and not just coping.”
SensoryWellness · 336 West Passaic Street, Rochelle Park, NJ · (201) 421-6346 · sensorywellness.com
By Rachel Jager