Sensory Processing is taking in information from the environment through the senses. Sensory Processing occurs through the interaction of a child’s neurological threshold and how behavior is affected by environmental issues. The threshold indicates at what level the child notices certain types of stimulation.
What is Sensory Integration?
Sensory Integration refers to the child’s ability to use external stimulation appropriately in the environment (ex: touch, sight and sound).
There are 4 patterns of sensory processing that a child might display during their normal daily routine and external activities:
The child may appear to be tired with low interest in lessons and activities. Has difficulty paying attention, and is unable to recall the days events.
Has trouble staying on task and is very easily distracted. Very sensitive to change in routine. May demonstrate irritability and delayed reaction to certain situations.
This child is in constant motion, always looking for constant stimulation. This child is very visual and tactile, wanting to touch everything.
The student is easily distracted in class and will avoid situations that are uncomfortable and over-stimulating.
Strategies to use for each of the 4 patterns of sensory processing.
Provide various manipulatives. Incorporate movement, such as Brain Gyms or other forms of exercise. Provide breaks or give a job to accomplish.
Provide a visual schedule to encourage routine. Anticipate situations that cause negative response. Become proactive to encourage a positive response in a predictable situation.
Assign the child specific jobs around the home, providing opportunities to move freely around the home. Provide access to water or snacks. Provide sensory toys for break time, such as an exercise ball, mini trampoline and hand toys.
Introduce change slowly. Provide a quiet area where the child may calm down with calming movements ( a bowl of beans, puzzle pieces, damp sand) when overstimulated.
If you suspect that your child might have a Sensory Processing Need and may require Sensory Integration, how would you go about determining which Sensory Pattern your child displays in order to begin strategies with them?
Observe the child frequently and in multiple situations. Observe in large and small groups, also when they have access to sensory-rich activities. Document all observations.
These are just a few points to be aware of and take note of. WaterPlay Systems is but one of many sensory solutions that may aid in helping those with sensory disorders cope with the anxieties of daily life.