Sep 01 , 2021
What is sensory integration
Sensory integration is the process of receiving and processing sensory information that enters the brain from our senses.
For example, you start climbing the stairs, miss one and start falling. Your brain figures out that you will fall and hit your head on the floor so the brain sends the signal to your hands for you to stretch them preventing the bigger disaster and protecting the head.
This example explains what sensory integration is - receiving information, processing it and preparing responses.
The seven senses
Even though most people think that there are only 5 senses, there are 7 of them and all of them are quite important in sensory integration. They are:
- Hearing (Auditory)
- Smell (Olfactory)
- Taste (Gustatory)
- Touch (Tactile)
- Movement (Vestibular): the movement and balance sense, which gives us information about where our head and body are in space. Helps us stay upright when we sit, stand, and walk.
- Body Position (Proprioception ): the body awareness sense, which tells us where our body parts are relative to each other. It also gives us information about how much force to use, allowing us to do something like crack an egg while not crushing the egg in our hands
Signs of sensory issue
Some children have difficulties receiving and processing incoming sensations. Some signs of a sensory issue include:
- Overly sensitive or under reactive to touch, movement, sights, or sounds
- Unusually high or low activity level
- Easily distracted; poor attention to tasks
- Delays in speech, motor skills, or academic achievement
- Coordination problems; appear clumsy or awkward
- Poor body awareness
- Difficulty learning new tasks or figuring out how to play with unfamiliar toys
- Difficulty with tasks that require using both hands at the same time
- Appears to be disorganized most of the time
- Difficulty with transitions between activities or environments
- Immature social skills
- Impulsivity or lack of self-control
- Difficulty calming self once “wound up”
Everyday tasks can become difficult for a child who processes sensory information differently. If you suspect an issue, contact a healthcare provider to share your concerns. They will help you to better understand what your child is dealing with, as well as they will help your child overcome those issues.
In our next post, we’ll talk about sensory milestones as well as sensory activities.
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- Mailloux Z & Smith Roley S. Sensory Integration Development and Early Signs of Difficulties. July 2013.