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Sensory Processing: What It Is and How to Help

Keywords: sensory processing, sensory processing disorder, SPD, occupational therapy, sensory activities, sensory gym



Sensory processing is the way our brains receive and interpret information from our senses. We use our senses to experience the world around us, including sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell, and movement. Sensory processing helps us to understand what is happening around us and to respond appropriately.

For most people, sensory processing happens automatically and without conscious thought. However, some people have difficulty processing sensory information. This can lead to a condition called sensory processing disorder (SPD). SPD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects how a person perceives and processes sensory information.





People with SPD may be oversensitive or undersensitive to certain types of sensory stimuli. For example, a person with SPD may be very sensitive to loud noises or bright lights. Others with SPD may be very undersensitive to pain or temperature changes.

SPD can cause a variety of challenges, including:

  • Difficulty paying attention

  • Difficulty regulating emotions

  • Difficulty with social interactions

  • Difficulty with motor skills

  • Difficulty with self-care activities

Sensory processing is the way our brains receive and interpret information from our senses. We have seven senses: sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell, vestibular, and proprioceptive. Each of these senses plays an important role in our ability to function in the world around us.

Sight helps us to see the world around us and to understand where we are in space.

Hearing helps us to hear sounds, such as speech, music, and traffic noise.

Touch helps us to feel things, such as the temperature of the air, the texture of a fabric, and the pain of a cut.

Taste helps us to taste food and drinks.

Smell helps us to smell things, such as food, flowers, and smoke.

Vestibular helps us to maintain our balance and equilibrium. It also helps us to understand our movement through space.

Proprioceptive helps us to be aware of the position and movement of our bodies. It also helps us to control our muscles.


All of these senses work together to help us to understand the world around us and to interact with it in a meaningful way.


Sensory processing and child development

Sensory processing is essential for child development. Children use their senses to learn about the world around them and to develop their motor skills, cognitive skills, and social-emotional skills.


Children with sensory processing disorder (SPD) may have difficulty processing sensory information from their environment. This can lead to a variety of challenges, such as difficulty paying attention, regulating emotions, and interacting with others.


SPD and the vestibular and proprioceptive systems

The vestibular and proprioceptive systems are particularly important for child development. The vestibular system helps children to maintain their balance and equilibrium. It also helps them to understand their movement through space. The proprioceptive system helps children to be aware of the position and movement of their bodies. It also helps them to control their muscles.

Children with SPD may have difficulty with their vestibular and proprioceptive systems. This can lead to challenges such as:

  • Difficulty with balance and coordination

  • Difficulty with motor skills, such as handwriting and catching a ball

  • Difficulty with spatial awareness

  • Difficulty with self-regulation

How to support children with SPD

If you are concerned that your child may have SPD, please talk to your pediatrician. They can refer you to an occupational therapist for a comprehensive evaluation.

If you are concerned that your child may have SPD, it is important to talk to your pediatrician. They can refer you to an occupational therapist for a comprehensive evaluation. Occupational therapists can help children with SPD to develop their sensory processing skills and learn to manage their sensory challenges.

There are a number of things that parents can do to help children with SPD. Here are a few tips:


  • Provide a predictable and structured environment. Children with SPD often thrive on routine and predictability. Having a regular schedule and predictable activities can help children with SPD to feel more comfortable and secure.

  • Take sensory breaks. Children with SPD may need to take breaks from sensory-stimulating activities. This can help them to regulate their emotions and sensory processing. Sensory breaks can include activities such as taking a walk, listening to calming music, or doing deep breathing exercises.

  • Use sensory activities. Sensory activities can help children to develop their sensory processing skills and learn to manage their sensory challenges. There are many different types of sensory activities available, such as playing with playdough, building with blocks, and swinging on a swing.

  • Work with an occupational therapist. An occupational therapist can help you to develop a plan to support your child's sensory needs. They can also teach you specific strategies for helping your child to manage their sensory challenges.


If you are struggling to help your child with SPD, please know that you are not alone. There are many resources available to help you and your child. With the right support, children with SPD can thrive and reach their full potential.


Want to learn more? Wondering if your loved one needs speech therapy or occupational therapy? Head to our website www.speechlanguagelearning.net and complete a contact form today!

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