This is part 2 of a 2-part blog post about Sensory Integration and what we can do if we know someone who has difficulty with Sensory Integration. As discussed in the previous blog post, Sensory Integration is our body’s way of interpreting and processing all the sensory input we receive and then making decisions based on that information.
Children and adults who have difficulty with sensory integration can respond differently to sensory input depending on the extent of their difficulty with sensory integration. For example, a child may receive the same sensory input that everyone else around them is, but their body and brain may not know how to interpret it resulting in difficulty and frustration for the child. Or the child may need more (or less) sensory input than other people around them causing them to respond to sensory inputs in a different way.
To quote Dr. Jean Ayres – “The brain locates, sorts, and orders sensations – somewhat as a traffic officer directs moving cars. When sensations move in a well-organized or integrated manner, the brain can use those sensations to form perceptions, behaviors, and learning. When the movement of sensations is disorganized, life can be like a rush hour traffic jam.” (Ayers, 2005).
Fortunately, if someone has difficulty with sensory integration, there are many ways that they can be helped and supported. Depending on whether they have difficulty with all types of sensory input or if a child needs more or less of a specific sensory input will help determine the best solutions for them. An Occupational Therapist who is trained in sensory integration will be able to help identify the unique and specific sensory needs of your child. With this information, a “sensory profile” is made for the child which outlines which sensory input a child needs more of, and which sensory input may be too stimulating for a child.
Sensory Integration is a very unique and personal thing to each person. We all have our own likes and dislikes for sensory input, for example:
The important thing to remember is that our own personal and unique sensory integration and needs are simply that – personal and unique to us. As a result, there is no such thing as right or wrong sensory integration – it is all unique to the person. Our job as parents is to find out how we can best support our child’s sensory integration and sensory needs so they can make sense of the world around them in a safe and meaningful way. If you have specific questions about your child and their sensory integration, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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See you soon!
Michael Jankowski, MS, OTR/L
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