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What is Sensory Processing?
- “Sensory processing” and “Sensory Integration” both refer to a critical and complex function of the brain in which it must receive and process the continuous flow of information from the senses.
- Sensory Processing lays the foundation for maintaining an alert and relaxed internal state, guiding appropriate responses to situations, and developing skills.
- Sensory Processing also influences our emotional and behavioral responses to everyday situation.
Sensory Processing Problems
- Sensory Processing problems, sometimes called Sensory Processing Disorder, occur when there is difficulty effectively processing information from the senses.
- This can affect how one feels and responds to certain sensory experiences.
- Sensory Processing difficulties contribute to problems with behavioral and emotional regulation, attention, movement, balance, and coordination, social participation, learning, and self- esteem.
- Hearing: Hearing involves the auditory system, and includes the ability to adjust to the volume of sounds for comfort, and identify details of sound including the direction of sounds and differences between sounds.
- Touch: Touch involves the tactile system, and tells us about details of objects including shape, size, and textures. This helps with developing hand skills, learning about the environment, and developing body scheme.
- Sight: Sight involves the visual system to help us understand what we see. It helps us to identify shapes, colors, letters, words, and numbers, and to understand body language involved in social situations. Sight also works with other sensory systems to help with movement, balance, safety, and knowing where the body is in the environment.
- Taste and Smell: This uses the gustatory and olfactory systems. They work closely together, especially when eating food, telling us the flavor and smell of food, and if food is fresh and safe.
- Body Awareness: The proprioceptive system, a “hidden sense”, provides information from the joints and muscles, and plays an important role in body awareness. It provides information on where body parts are and how they are moving, and how much force to use with an activity.
- Movement and Balance: The vestibular system, another “hidden sense”, is located in the inner ear and plays a critical role in balance, coordination, muscle tone (strength), and posture. It provides information about the direction and speed of movement, and where the body is as it moves through the environment. It helps us to be comfortable with movement activities and heights, and to feel regulated and calm.
How to Diagnose Problems
- Clinical assessments by a trained occupational therapist in addition to caregiver/client surveys are used to diagnose SPD. Occupational Therapy Connections provides these comprehensive and individualized evaluations.
- Occupational therapy services should be provided by a therapist trained in sensory processing. Occupational Therapy Connections provides comprehensive treatment by experienced and extensively trained occupational therapists that is individualized to address the Sensory Processing needs of the client and support the client and family.
- This therapy can be effective at reducing negative symptoms related to Sensory Processing needs and improving function.