We receive sensory information constantly from our bodies and from our environment. Our brains must be able to organise this information in order for us to function successfully in our day-to-day lives. This makes sensory integration vital to the functioning of our nervous system functioning.
Sensory information refers to the information we receive from our senses of touch, sight, hearing, taste, and smell. As well our ‘hidden senses’, proprioception, our sense of body awareness and vestibular, our sense of movement and balance.
Our seven senses work together to make up the three major components of sensory processing:
Over or under sensitivities to sensory information. Under sensitive children may seek out sensory opportunities more than other children and this can become disruptive to their daily functioning. Over sensitive children may be sensitive to clothing, be picky eaters, react strongly to sounds, or be fearful of movement. This can result in difficulties with self-regulation and emotional control.
A difficulty processing and interpreting the important qualities of sensory information. For example, discrimination of movement information determines if one is upside down or right‐side up, moving or not moving. Difficulties with sensory discrimination generally result in poor posture or skilled motor activities such as sports, handwriting, coordination and ball skills.
Difficulties with motor planning, coordinating the two sides of the body and performing tasks which require motor coordination. Problems in praxis result in difficulties performing everyday motor activities such as dressing, using utensils and playing.
Any child can experience Sensory Integration Difficulties and will not necessarily have a medical diagnosis.
The following children with these Diagnoses are however likely to experience some kind of Sensory Integration Dysfunction:
- Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorders
- Other Neurodevelopmental Disorders
And will therefore benefit from Occupational Therapy.