We take information in through our senses …
Vestibular/balance and movement
Interoception/internal body awareness
…and process it.
This processing of sensory information happens ALL the time, and subconsciously!
It begins well before we are born and never stops!
Efficient sensory processing provides a solid basis from which we can develop high level sensory motor and perceptual motor skills. It also helps us to remain in just the right level of alertness and attention for the task at hand.
Sensory processing is therefore linked to how successful we are in participating and performing in everyday activities including: play, academic and organisational skills, self care, behaviour, sleep/settling, transitions, social skills and emotional regulation.
This is why, when a child is referred for a handwriting assessment and assistance to overcome difficulties managing classroom tasks, a paediatric OT will want to look at their sensory processing efficiency. It is even possible to improve a child’s handwriting, through sensory integration therapy, without even picking up a pencil!
A mature sensory system processes sensory information efficiently, and positively impacts all of our daily occupations!
- Discrimination skills (understanding the qualities of sensory inputs)
- Regulation/Modulation skills (neither over/under responsive to sensory input); &
- Sensory motor skills (praxis/motor planning skills, including a good sense of body awareness, and an ability to plan and execute smooth, well-coordinated, balanced, timed, movements and action sequences)
For more information, check out my favourite therapy resources.
For play and activity inspiration to build sensory processing skills, check out the following categories on this site:
EXPLORATION – Sensory Discrimination – sensory play, messy play… Getting in amongst the textures, sights, tastes and sounds of the world!
REGULATION – Sensory Regulation – deep pressure/firm touch, ‘heavy work’, and (linear) movement inspiration for calming and organising the sensory system. Getting that lovely proprioceptive, tactile and vestibular input to help kids achieve and maintain a ‘just right’ level of alertness!
MOTOR PLANNING – Sensory Motor – inspiration to build motor planning skills: body awareness, balance, coordination, sequencing, problem solving…
You can listen to Anna Meadows, paediatric occupational therapist and play advocate, chatting about all things sensory processing, play, social skills and more on Episode 65 of the Thriving Children Podcast