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SENSORY PROCESSING

Signs your child may have challenges with Sensory Processing

(including, but not limited to):

  • Refuses to wear certain clothing or eat certain foods

  • Demonstrates sensitivity to certain sounds

  • Seeks movement (always “on the go”) 

OR avoids movement activities

  • Has frequent and/or explosive meltdowns

  • Appears clumsy, “floppy”, or moves awkwardly

  • Becomes easily distracted in a busy environment

  • Appears to not notice things occurring in the

environment

  • Chews on or touches objects frequently

  • Struggles with fine motor, gross motor, or academic skills

What is it?

Sensory processing is the ability to learn about the world around us through the use of our senses. Everything we do requires the use of our eight sensory systems: tactile (touch), olfactory (smell), gustatory (taste), auditory (sound), visual (sight), vestibular (movement & balance),  proprioceptive (body awareness & movement) and interoception (internal awareness).

 

The nervous system perceives sensory information, processes it, and produces a response based on how the information is interpreted by the brain. This occurs every moment of the day, as the body is constantly bombarded with an array of sensory information.

 

To participate effectively in daily life activities, we need our sensory systems to be integrated and “working together” to give us information about our body, how to use our body, how to interact with others, and how to interact with the world around us.

Our Approach

At Leaps and Bounds, we recognize that every child (and adult) processes information differently and can have a different response to the same situation and/or stimuli. Therefore, we complete a thorough assessment to identify what type of “sensory kid” the child is and then individualize treatment for each child.

There are a variety of ways that sensory processing concerns can manifest themselves. Many terms are used to describe behaviors seen in children with sensory processing disorders. We have chosen to use the following to describe the various types of “sensory kids” that we see:

  • Sensory Avoiders

  • Sensory Seekers

  • Under Responsive

  • Coordination Disorders

Often children exhibit behaviors in more than one of these areas. Regardless of the terms used to describe a child, if he displays any signs or symptoms of poor sensory processing, he is not accurately processing sensory information. (See our Sensory Processing Checklist for more details.)

If a child is a Sensory Avoider (also called sensory sensitive, over responsive, or hypersensitive), then a multitude of sensations, or any single sensation, may be overwhelming to the child. He may be sensitive to sights, sounds, smells, touch, taste and/or movement, causing him to avoid these sensations. This can result in a variety of maladaptive behaviors, including distractibility, irritability, non-compliance, and/or aggression.

If a child is a Sensory Seeker then he may require more intense sensory input, which may cause the child to seek out a variety of stimuli. His body constantly needs more input, so he will seek out sights, sounds, smells, touch, taste and/or movement. This child may be more active and engage in rough play. He may constantly touch people and objects, mouth objects, and demonstrate increased distractibility.

A child can also be Under Responsive to sensation (also called hyposensitive, low arousal, or poor registration) which indicates he may not be registering sensory information. This child may not respond to pain, does not notice when being touched, may be lethargic and withdrawn or may not attend to important environmental information (sights, sounds, touch).

If a child has a Coordination Disorder (poor timing, sequencing, and coordination) related to an inability to process information from the body senses, then he may be clumsy, awkward and unable to successfully complete motor tasks.