Sensory Processing Disorder

Sensory Processing refers to how information is relayed from our sensory receptors to our nervous system and organized for an individual to make sense of their environment and functionally adapt to various situations. When this information is not properly understood or interpreted, dysfunction can occur. For many children, dysfunctional responses can take the form of meltdowns or anxiety surrounding certain situations.

Sensory Integration, often referred to as Sensory Processing, is the brain’s ability to process all of the sensory information from the environment in order to act and behave appropriately.  This involves the senses of touch, hearing, seeing, tasting, and smelling.  It also involves other senses called proprioceptive, vestibular, and interoception. 

The proprioceptive sense helps children with body awareness so they can have smooth and coordinated movements when doing activities.

The vestibular sense is our sense of movement and how our brain and body respond to changes in head position through movement.

Interoception is the sense that tells us when we’re thirsty, hungry, tired, or need to use the restroom.  It is closely tied to our emotions.

Once your child begins treatment with us, our team of therapists will work with you to make sure you have a good understanding of the sensory systems as they relate to your child and your child’s behaviors.  We will work with you to come up with easy home activities to provide sensory nourishment for your child!

 

​OVERVIEW OF THE SENSES:

​SIGHT
Allows the child to see their environment and take in information from their visual system. This area not only includes acuity (being able to see 20/20) but how the eyes move together, how the child recognizes patterns/shapes, or how the child interprets what they see. 

TOUCH
Involves what the child feels via receptors within their skin. Includes light touch (such as the feeling of clothing, socks, or undergarment) as well as deep pressure (such as the feeling from hugs or squeezes). 

HEARING
Provides information about what sounds are occurring around a child. Includes low and high frequencies.

SMELL
Provides information about the smells in the child’s surroundings.  

TASTE
Relays what a child tastes on their tongue. Includes salty, bitter, sweet, savory, and sour.

MOVEMENT (VESTIBULAR)
Movement of fluid in the inner ear sends messages to the brain regarding the relative position of the head to the body as well as how fast it is moving. 

BODY AWARENESS (PROPRIOCEPTION)
Receptors located within joint spaces transmit information about where each joint is in space relative to one another without relying on visual confirmation. For example, a child can successfully clear stairs without constantly looking at their feet due the information they receive via their proprioceptive sense. 

RED FLAGS:

SIGHT
Becomes easily overwhelmed by a busy visual environment (such as scattered puzzle pieces)
Has difficulty finding objects from a busy pile

TOUCH
Does not like getting hands or skin dirty or messy
Has poor awareness of dirty face or hands, has a tendency to touch everything
Is irritated by the feeling of certain fabrics or textures

HEARING
Covers their ears frequently and is fearful of particular noises
Has difficulty distinguishing certain sounds, may not respond to their name when called

SMELL
Becomes distraught when presented with the smell of specific objects or foods

TASTE
Gags at the taste of certain foods
Is an extremely picky eater

MOVEMENT
Is constantly in motion, has a hard time “sitting still” 
Expresses fear or hesitation with movement, prefers to keep their feet/body close to the ground

BODY AWARENESS
Constantly bumping into objects or people
Holds utensils in an awkward or inefficient manner