Sensory integration (also referred to as sensory processing) is a basic neurological process that happens automatically in all of us all the time. Information from the world around us is continuously received by our senses and sent to the brain. This includes information from our familiar senses of smell, taste, vision and hearing, as well as three more fundamental and less familiar senses:
The tactile sense, with receptors on our skin from head to toe, receives perceptions about whether we are actively touching something or being actively touched by something else. It recognizes shapes, textures, and sizes of objects in our environment. It helps us distinguish between threatening and non-threatening touch. It tells our brain where “we” stop and the world outside our bodies begins.
The vestibular sense, with its sensors located in our inner ears, tells our brain when we are moving, what direction we are moving in, which way is up and where our body "is" in space. It is responsible for balance and good posture, as well as our orientation and attention to the world around us.
The proprioceptive sense, which has receptors in all our muscles and joints, gives our brain information about where our body parts are and how they "connect" with the objects they use and how to position our bodies correctly for coordinated movement. It gives us a sense of how hard to push and pull to move and lift objects and ourselves. The brain receives these messages from our sense organs and organizes and integrates this information to produce meaningful and appropriate responses.
This includes coordinated movement, good balance and postural control and tolerance for everyday sounds, touch, smells and tastes. Effective sensory integration is responsible for self-regulation of attention, arousal, impulse control, frustration tolerance and emotional responses.
These are the foundations for comfortable and coordinated interaction with the world around us, from playing on the playground or sitting and working at our desks at school to using utensils properly to eat our food or socializing comfortably with groups of peers. Adequate sensory processing makes a child ready to learn, and lays the foundation for a child’s sense of mastery and self-esteem.
Children who process sensory information poorly have difficulty organizing and interpreting information from their senses. The brain’s response to sensory stimulation is often inadequate or overreactive. This negatively impacts on the development of complex learning, motor coordination, and appropriate behavior. It can affect how well a child pays attention, maintains the proper level of arousal for various environments and regulates his or her emotional states. These children may be irritated and upset by normal sensory experiences in their everyday environment, such as sounds, touch, movement or even lights or they may crave intense and often inappropriate amounts of stimulation.
........Craves excessive movement or is afraid or overwhelmed by normal movement
........Becomes irritated and withdraws from everyday touch, smells, tastes and sounds
.........Poor coordination, clumsy
.........Poor sense of “personal space”, often bumps into things and people
.........Appears inattentive, under or over-aroused, emotional labile
.........Has difficulty learning new motor tasks, following multistep directions
.........Presses or pushes too hard on toys, pencils, spills often
.........Avoids physical play (gym, playground, sports) typical of peers
.........Writing, dressing, feeding difficulties
.........Poor attention and organization
.........Poor impulse control, poor emotional regulation
.........Easily over-aroused or often “hard to get going”
.........Tires easily, slumps in chair, leans on people or walls, likes to work lying down
We assess how effectively children use their sensory integration and motor coordination systems to interact with the world: at home, in school, during play, and when eating, dressing, communicating and socializing.
If skill levels or functional abilities are delayed or inadequate, or if there are behavioral issues based in sensory processing weaknesses, we determine the contributing factors and address these issues.
Goal of treatment:
Our goal is to help your child develop the fundamental skills necessary to adequately and safely perform the physical, academic and social activities of daily life and to interact comfortably and effectively with peers and adults.