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MAKING THE SENSORY CONNECTION IN THE EARLY YEARS.

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Presentation on theme: "MAKING THE SENSORY CONNECTION IN THE EARLY YEARS."— Presentation transcript:

1 MAKING THE SENSORY CONNECTION IN THE EARLY YEARS

2 Objectives Learn the importance of sensory integration and sensory processing preferences Overview of the sensory systems Learn to recognize children with sensory processing difficulties Learn practical strategies to minimize disruption and maximize learning opportunities.

3 Sensory Integration A neurological process that organizes sensations from our environment to enable us to learn and behave effectively Helps us to interpret and organize sensory information for our use in everyday life A 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”

4 Sensory Processing 1.Registration 2.Orientation 3.Interpretation 4.Organization 5.Action

5 Sensory Defensiveness Can occur in any sensory system but combinations of more than one are common Common systems to be involved include tactile and auditory May range from mild to severe

6 Normal Development Level 1 – primary sensory systems by 2 months Level 2 – perceptual-motor foundations by 1 year Level 3 – perceptual-motor skills by age 3 Level 4 – academic readiness by 6 years

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8 Sensory Systems Overview There are 7 senses: 5 external sources of sensory information 2 internal sources Sensory integration evolves along a continuum of normal development throughout our lives Birth – 7 to 10 years is an important period of sensory development

9 Sensory Systems Overview Tactile (touch) Vestibular (balance) Proprioception (body awareness) Visual (sight) Auditory (hearing) Gustatory (taste) Olfactory (smell)

10 Sensory Preferences All 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…..

11 Tactile (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.

12 Tactile - Hypersensitive Avoids touch or contact Avoids and dislikes messy play Responds negatively to textures in foods, toys, furniture Reacts excessively to minor touch (e.g. light touch, leaf touching arm) Avoids activities such as: using clay, glue, playdough, sand, water, paint Dislikes teeth brushing, hairbrushing Difficulty standing in line, sitting close to others

13 Tactile - Hyposensitive Touches other people and objects to get information Seeks deep touch, such as bear hugs, back rubs, rough play Wants to touch surfaces that give strong feedback, such as hot, cold, rough, sharp Frequently puts things in mouth, chews collar or clothing Seems unaware of “mess” on faces or hands Difficulty manipulating small objects Delayed reaction to touch or pain

14 Vestibular (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 visual Children may be hyper or hyposensitive to movement, gravity or changing head position.

15 Vestibular System

16 Vestibular - hypersensitive Over-reacts to or avoids movement activities Walks close to walls, clings to supports such as banisters, furniture Difficulty with motor planning Difficulty with visual tracking Fear and avoidance of the playground, gym, stairs, feet leaving the ground Prefers to hold head upright; disoriented after change in head position (e.g putting on shoes)

17 Vestibular - 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 dizzy May 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 chairs Poor balance while changing body position

18 Proprioception Body awareness: provides information about where a certain body part is an how it is moving Location: activated by muscle and joint movements Proprioception 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.

19 Proprioception 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 objects Weak grasp. Excessive clapping, crashing, banging.

20 Visual (sight) Vision: provides information about objects and persons. Helps us define boundaries as we move through time and space. May be hyposensitive or hypersensitive.

21 Visual - hypersensitive Disturbed by bright light or flickering indoor light Covers eyes or squints to avoid sunlight Follows any movement in the room with eyes Block field of vision with head Avoids looking directly at people or objects

22 Visual - hyposensitive Seems unaware of presence of other people Unable to locate desired objects, people Loses sight of objects when they move Can’t draw or copy what he sees Has difficulty with eye-hand coordination Has difficulty tracking

23 Auditory (hearing) Hearing: provides information about sounds in the environment (loud, soft, high, low, near, far). May be hyper or hypo sensitive to sounds.

24 Auditory - hypersensitive Easily distracted by background sounds Hold hands over ears Becomes anxious in anticipation of unpleasant sounds Has difficulty looking and listening at the same time Over-reacts to quiet, everyday sounds

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26 Auditory - hyposensitive Does not answer to name Does not distinguish speech from other environmental sounds Seem oblivious to sounds of surrounding activities Creates constant sounds (e.g. echoing TV, sounds) Uses voice that is too loud of too soft

27 Gustatory (taste) Taste: provides information about different types of taste (sweet, sour, bitter, salty, spicy). Child can by hyper-reactive or hypo-reactive. Taste activity:

28 Taste – Hyper-reactive Licks objects or people in the environment Chews or mouths objects inappropriately Sniffs objects or people in unusual ways Wants food constantly High threshold for bad tastes

29 Taste – hypo-reactive Eats a limited variety of foods Gags, refuses food Spits out foods, medications Difficulties with oral hygiene Smell-defensive: will avoid places or people with strong odours Reacts to odours that other people don’t notice

30 Sensory “red flags” Constant meltdowns and frustration Covering ears Unable to transition Frequent inability to handle certain forms of touch, sights or sounds Bumpers & crashers vs. solitary and quiet play Constant hiding, need to move under furniture or roll on the floor

31 Self-Regulation Strategies Sensory checklist, interview and observation Help the child to learn and recognize their own sensory preferences Sensory 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 skillful Sensory Diets include a combination of alerting, organizing and calming activities.

32 Alerting Strategies Quick physical movements Bouncing on large exercise ball Jumping Crunching dry cereal Action songs Change of position *Be careful that the alerting activity does not result in over-stimulation or hyperactivity. Watch the child’s signals.

33 Calming/Organizing Strategies Fidget toys Deep pressure Sucking, chewing White noise, quiet music with steady beat “Heavy work” Rocking, swaying, swinging

34 SAFE Sensorimotor Activities Sensory motor, Appropriate, Fun and Easy activities Book: “The Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun”, Carol S. Kranowitz Examples: Shaving cream car wash Paw prints, Stretchy bands Metronome code, Clothespin togs, Toothpick construction

35 Strategies Provide immediate feedback Explain rules and expectations Use of meaningful visuals Reduce sensory overload Change the environment!!

36 Strategies for the Environment Develop a consistent routine Keep walls and shelves clutter free Plan transitions Plan movement breaks between and during activities Simplify instructions

37 More Strategies? Transition times (entering, leaving, change in activity) Ideas:

38 SUMMARY Recognize 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 else Consult with OT Sensory checklist Explore sensorimotor activities Changes to the environment can produce significant results

39 Words of Wisdom It 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!!

40 References & 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)

41 References & Resources Building Bridges through Sensory Integration, Authors: Ellen Yack, Shirley Sutton & Paula Aquilla. The Sensory Profile: Authors: Julie Ermer and Winnie Dunn The Sensory Profile: Authors: Julie Ermer and Winnie Dunn. Sensory Integration and the child, Author: Jean Ayres. Website:

42 QUESTIONS


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