Walking through the front doors of Sensitive Solutions in El Granada, the boundaries between therapy and play quickly dissolve. In one corner of the room, a slide is ridged with tactile rollers designed to stimulate a child’s nerves, muscles and joints. Beyond a plush ball pit, a blanket swing dangles from the ceiling, meant to mimic the safety of a mother’s womb.
“Most of the equipment in there is to help a child improve their body awareness or their balance,” said Lexi Santos, owner of Sensitive Solutions. “And for kids that have a lot of energy and need a lot of movement, they can run around and get that need met so they can sit better afterwards.”
Santos, an occupational therapist, has been working diligently to prepare her therapy center for its official opening this March. In addition to pediatric occupational therapy, Sensitive Solutions will also offer groups to help children develop social skills, feeding groups to help them expand their diets, physical therapy, developmental playgroups and a group to help teens cultivate mindfulness and self-regulation.
“It really is a holistic center where a child, no matter their age, and a parent, can find some type of therapeutic activity,” she said.
Santos acknowledges that Sensitive Solutions’ offerings are a seemingly broad, eclectic assortment. She was driven to create the center after struggling to find similar services as a pediatric occupational therapist.
“A lot of these stem from services that I’d wished were available as referral sources when I was working with kids,” said Santos. “There’s definitely nothing like this on the coast. And it’s hard to find these kinds of services.”
Santos didn’t just want to create a place for kids to find solace. She wanted to create a center where their parents could find respite, too. Sensitive Solutions has a yoga studio and a room for barre, an exercise that blends techniques from ballet and yoga.
“When I’m working with kids, I usually only have five or 10 minutes to check in with their parents afterwards,” she said. “I just wanted something for them. That’s where the exercise and child care came into play.”
Santos will also host a free, postpartum support group for new moms on Sundays.
And each month, she plans to lead a 45-minute infant massage class at Half Moon Bay Library.
Santos said that she sees children with a wide range of disabilities. Some children who suffer from ADHD may need more help sitting and focusing. Others who struggle with sensory processing disorders might have difficulty with their body awareness. And some children who suffer from certain genetic disorders, she continued, might benefit from improving their fine motor skills.
But Santos believes that all children can benefit from the center’s social-emotional learning curriculum.
“For me, social-emotional learning is the ability to think of other’s thoughts and feelings, and to honor your own,” she said. “We’re seeing a lot more children who have anxiety and depression, and at a younger age. A lot of times, parents and children don’t know how to deal with that.”
Santos said that she’s eager to help children and teens work on issues stemming from anxiety and depression.
“For me, that reaches a place that’s very deep,” she said. “I want to make the most impact there, and I would love to be able to offer the Coastside something that can address that.”
For more information, visit sensitivesolutions.org.