2ObjectivesLearn the importance of sensory integration and sensory processing preferencesOverview of the sensory systemsLearn to recognize children with sensory processing difficultiesLearn practical strategies to minimize disruption and maximize learning opportunities.
3Sensory IntegrationA neurological process that organizes sensations from our environment to enable us to learn and behave effectivelyHelps us to interpret and organize sensory information for our use in everyday lifeA theory of brain/behavior relationships developed by Jean Ayres to describe neurological dysfunction (1950’s and 60’s)Sensory Integration is the basis for all behavior“The glue that holds it all together”
8Sensory Systems Overview There are 7 senses:5 external sources of sensory information2 internal sourcesSensory integration evolves along a continuum of normal development throughout our livesBirth – 7 to 10 years is an important period of sensory development
10Sensory PreferencesAll of us have sensory preferences that help us to deal with the constant stimulation we receive from our environment everyday.Our sensory systems attempt to take in and organize this information so we can function on a daily basis.Checklist activity…..
11Tactile (touch)Touch: provides information about the environment and object qualities (touch, pressure, texture, sharp, dull, heat, cold, pain)Children may be hyper or hyposensitive to touch, or may have problems with tactile discrimination.
12Tactile - Hypersensitive Avoids touch or contactAvoids and dislikes messy playResponds negatively to textures in foods, toys, furnitureReacts excessively to minor touch (e.g. light touch, leaf touching arm)Avoids activities such as: using clay, glue, playdough, sand, water, paintDislikes teeth brushing, hairbrushingDifficulty standing in line, sitting close to others
13Tactile - Hyposensitive Touches other people and objects to get informationSeeks deep touch, such as bear hugs, back rubs, rough playWants to touch surfaces that give strong feedback, such as hot, cold, rough, sharpFrequently puts things in mouth, chews collar or clothingSeems unaware of “mess” on faces or handsDifficulty manipulating small objectsDelayed reaction to touch or pain
14Vestibular (balance)Vestibular: provides information about where our body is in space, and whether or not we or our surroundings are moving (speed and direction).Location: inner ear – stimulated by head movements and input from other senses, especially visualChildren may be hyper or hyposensitive to movement, gravity or changing head position.
16Vestibular - hypersensitive Over-reacts to or avoids movement activitiesWalks close to walls, clings to supports such as banisters, furnitureDifficulty with motor planningDifficulty with visual trackingFear and avoidance of the playground, gym, stairs, feet leaving the groundPrefers to hold head upright; disoriented after change in head position (e.g putting on shoes)
17Vestibular - hyposensitive Seems to need constant movement (rocks, fidgets, can’t stay still)Seek out stimulating motor activities such as merry-go-rounds, swinging, likes feeling dizzyMay take excessive risks (e.g. jumping from high places)May use too much pressure to pick up or hold objects (e.g. tie laces, touch a pet)Poor sitting balance in chairsPoor balance while changing body position
18ProprioceptionBody awareness: provides information about where a certain body part is an how it is movingLocation: activated by muscle and joint movementsProprioception is the unconscious awareness of body position.Children who are under-responsive to proprioceptive input may seek out additional input to increase their knowledge of where their body is in space.
19Proprioception Signs: Unable to determine the amount of force to move things.Printing is too heavy or too light.Leans into objects or people.Frequently drops objectsWeak grasp.Excessive clapping, crashing, banging.
20Visual (sight)Vision: provides information about objects and persons. Helps us define boundaries as we move through time and space.May be hyposensitive or hypersensitive.
21Visual - hypersensitive Disturbed by bright light or flickering indoor lightCovers eyes or squints to avoid sunlightFollows any movement in the room with eyesBlock field of vision with headAvoids looking directly at people or objects
22Visual - hyposensitive Seems unaware of presence of other peopleUnable to locate desired objects, peopleLoses sight of objects when they moveCan’t draw or copy what he seesHas difficulty with eye-hand coordinationHas difficulty tracking
23Auditory (hearing)Hearing: provides information about sounds in the environment (loud, soft, high, low, near, far).May be hyper or hypo sensitive to sounds.
24Auditory - hypersensitive Easily distracted by background soundsHold hands over earsBecomes anxious in anticipation of unpleasant soundsHas difficulty looking and listening at the same timeOver-reacts to quiet, everyday sounds
26Auditory - hyposensitive Does not answer to nameDoes not distinguish speech from other environmental soundsSeem oblivious to sounds of surrounding activitiesCreates constant sounds (e.g. echoing TV, sounds)Uses voice that is too loud of too soft
27Gustatory (taste)Taste: provides information about different types of taste (sweet, sour, bitter, salty, spicy).Child can by hyper-reactive or hypo-reactive.Taste activity:
28Taste – Hyper-reactive Licks objects or people in the environmentChews or mouths objects inappropriatelySniffs objects or people in unusual waysWants food constantlyHigh threshold for bad tastes
29Taste – hypo-reactive Eats a limited variety of foods Gags, refuses foodSpits out foods, medicationsDifficulties with oral hygieneSmell-defensive: will avoid places or people with strong odoursReacts to odours that other people don’t notice
30Sensory “red flags” Constant meltdowns and frustration Covering ears Unable to transitionFrequent inability to handle certain forms of touch, sights or soundsBumpers & crashers vs. solitary and quiet playConstant hiding, need to move under furniture or roll on the floor
31Self-Regulation Strategies Sensory checklist, interview and observationHelp the child to learn and recognize their own sensory preferencesSensory Diet – a planned an scheduled activity program designed to meet a child’s specific sensory needs.It’s purpose is to help the child become more focused, adaptable and skillfulSensory Diets include a combination of alerting, organizing and calming activities.
32Alerting Strategies Quick physical movements Bouncing on large exercise ballJumpingCrunching dry cerealAction songsChange of position*Be careful that the alerting activity does not result in over-stimulation or hyperactivity. Watch the child’s signals.
33Calming/Organizing Strategies Fidget toysDeep pressureSucking, chewingWhite noise, quiet music with steady beat“Heavy work”Rocking, swaying, swinging
34SAFE Sensorimotor Activities Sensory motor, Appropriate, Fun and Easy activitiesBook: “The Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun”, Carol S. KranowitzExamples: Shaving cream car washPaw prints, Stretchy bandsMetronome code, Clothespin togs, Toothpick construction
35Strategies Provide immediate feedback Explain rules and expectations Use of meaningful visualsReduce sensory overloadChange the environment!!
36Strategies for the Environment Develop a consistent routineKeep walls and shelves clutter freePlan transitionsPlan movement breaks between and during activitiesSimplify instructions
37More Strategies?Transition times (entering, leaving, change in activity)Ideas:
38SUMMARYRecognize child’s sensory preferences. Strong preferences do not automatically mean a child has a “sensory issue”.Choose one strategy and try it to see it works, before trying something elseConsult with OTSensory checklistExplore sensorimotor activitiesChanges to the environment can produce significant results
39Words of WisdomIt is important to recognize that not every meltdown is a “sensory issue” – sometimes it is just a bad day!!If you see consistent sensory red flags, see what you can change in the environment first, before you try to change the child!!
40References & Resources Sensorimotor Processing Activity Plans: Constance Sheda & Patricia Ralston (1997)The Out-of-Sync Child: Carol S. Kranowitz (1998)The Out-of-Sync Child has Fun: Carol S. Kranowitz (2003)The Sensory Connection: Nancy Kashman & Janet Mora (2005)
41References & Resources Building Bridges through Sensory Integration, Authors: Ellen Yack, Shirley Sutton & Paula Aquilla.The Sensory Profile: Authors: Julie Ermer and Winnie DunnThe Sensory Profile: Authors: Julie Ermer and Winnie Dunn.Sensory Integration and the child, Author: Jean Ayres.Website: