Our bodies and brains use specialized systems to register all the different sensory information in our environment and piece it together to build a complete picture of: what is going on around us, with our bodies, within our bodies, where we are, and what time of day it is. Sensory processing shapes our experiences in the world and impacts our feelings.
Touch, sight, sound, movement, body position, smell, taste, internal sensation. Each of these senses comes together to build your conscious reality.
This brain-body process is taking place every second of every day and through the attention, it pays to external and internal information we form our perception of the world, our lived conscious experienced.
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Children usually present with three types of responses to sensations: under-reaction, sensory seeking and over-reaction.
- Children who appear to under-react may appear withdrawn or be difficult to engage in an activity, be slow to respond, with poor inner drive; apathetic.
- Sensory seekers need to activate their senses any way possible. This may be by fidgeting, craving sensations but finding them unsatisfactory and wanting more.
- Children who over-react may appear to be excessively emotional in response to events and avoidant of change.
To help a child manage their sensory processing disorder both at home and at St. Bernadette School it is important to look at the activity, the environment and to consider the following questions:
- Would this activity result in the child under-reacting, seeking out sensations or over reacting? If so, can it be changed? Sometimes 10 minutes on a trampoline can calm one child but over-excite another.
- Is the environment set up to help that child? If a child becomes scared by too much noise, is it possible to create a den or quiet reading corner? Perhaps a child who under-reacts may benefit from sitting on a wobble cushion to reawaken their senses.
Sensory diets can be a powerful behavioural tool in helping our pupils to respond appropriately to their senses. A sensory diet is a personalised activity plan, designed to provide the sensory input a person needs to stay focused and organised throughout the day. Done well, it should help with attention, concentration, sensory reactions and self-regulation. If you have any questions regarding your child's sensory needs then please contact the school Sendco.
Most people are surprised to find out that we actually have eight sensory systems rather than five. Each of the eight sensory systems contributes to our sense of safety, to mastery of our own body, and the resultant sensory-affective combination.