Two years ago, Ashley Johnson, mother of four, noticed her two younger boys having to touch everything in their sight, along with having trouble sleeping at night. Something was not right and Ashley knew her two boys needed to seek care. The family sought care through a child psychiatrist in Worthington, Nicole Christenson, MD. The two boys, Chase who is currently 11 and Spencer who is 9, were diagnosed with high sensory needs. They started going to occupational therapy in Worthington once a week and were eventually transferred to Sioux Falls for therapy, due to the care they required.

Nicole Sammons with Spencer Johnson on one of the four swings used in the pediatric room for Sensory Integration Therapy.

The Johnson boys were recommended weekly visits to Sioux Falls for Sensory Integration Therapy. “We were making one to two trips out to Sioux Falls a week and it was getting to be too much”, states Ashley. “We had to cut down the recommended visits to once every other week, due to our busy family schedule.”

A New Light

Ashley heard Windom Area Health was applying for a grant to add Sensory Integration Therapy to their services in the Rehabilitation Department. Ashley ended up writing a letter of support for the grant telling her story about having to drive a substantial distance to receive care.

New pediatric room, featuring a rock-climbing wall, swings and a private space for children.

Windom Area Health received the grant for Sensory Integration Therapy and the program has been up and running since June of 2019. “The program has been a success so far,” states Nicole Sammons, Occupational Therapist who leads the Sensory Integration Program. “I have had great numbers for this program, which proves there was a need for this level of care in this area.” The new pediatric room at Windom Area Health includes a rock-climbing wall and various swings to aide in Sensory Integration Therapy.

Appointments will often include an initial evaluation in deficits or behaviors the child is demonstrating. After the evaluation, the therapist will customize a treatment plan to help make functional gains in the child’s life. Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) may affect all senses and it is identified in children, but adults may be affected as well. The disorder if often present in people with a developmental condition, for instance, autism spectrum disorder. People with SPD may exert behaviors such as having a hard time engaging in conversation or play, have poor body awareness or have trouble writing or using utensils.


Pictured is Chase Johnson working on body awareness with Nicole Sammons.

Sensory Integration Therapy has been going well for Chase and Spencer. “We are so grateful to have the same level of care we received in Sioux Falls, here in Windom. It has saved our family money, time and the long days of waiting around for appointments in Sioux Falls,” notes Ashley.

Chase and Spencer have been seeing Nicole Sammons for the past few months on a weekly basis and have enjoyed their therapy sessions. “We feel so comfortable with Nicole and we would definitely recommend the Sensory Integration Therapy program at Windom Area Health to anyone who is looking for high level care, close to home,” says Ashley. “Nicole is very patient and always open to continuing to learn, even with the amount of experience she has as being an occupational therapist.”

Chase and Spencer both attend Windom Area Schools. Chase loves to play guitar and Spencer is involved with soccer, football and attends Tae Kwon Do class with Medina’s Martial Arts at the Wellness Center here at Windom Area Health. Nicole notes, “I have seen progress in both of the boys’ behaviors and with the consistency in their appointments, it has allowed them to improve upon their daily lifestyle habits.”

Talk with your physician today about getting Sensory Integration Therapy at the Windom Area Health Rehabilitation Department. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call the Rehabilitation Department at 507-831-0634.

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