"The least thought about, and yet most complex expression of life is to process sensory information"
Sensory processing is fundamental to our lives, and yet, most of us take it for granted.
Most people understand that we have five senses: Sight, sound, touch
taste and smell. We may get our vision checked by an optician or our
hearing by an audiologist but this doesn't help us to understand how
well our brain is able to process this information.
When we look at sensory processing we need to understand that how
well the brain processes sound or sight information is different from
simply hearing or seeing.
All the senses function on a spectrum from hyposensitive through to
hypersensitive. You may know someone who dislikes bright lights or
loves deep pressure but avoids light touch. Others hear high frequency
or quiet sounds that others do not. Some children will absolutely avoid
messy play whilst for others, it is a joy!
What makes this even more complex is that our sensitivities will be affected by stress levels, lack of sleep, nutrition and many other factors. If your child has sensory processing problems it simply means they are not processing information within the parameters of most of the population. They may be diagnosed with a sensory processing disorder or sometimes unfortunately labelled as inattentive, lazy or non-compliant.
The internal senses
The five senses discussed above are our external senses for making sense of the world outside our bodies. We also have internal senses that are just as important:
The Vestibular system
This is part of the inner ear and is made up of the semicircular canals and other areas. It is the main system for balance and movement and is also very closely linked to vision. Have you ever thought how clever it is that you can walk down the street and, although you are constantly moving, what you are looking at stays still? This is the vestibular and visual systems working together.
If we are under sensitive to vestibular information we will tend to need to move, rock or spin. If we are over sensitive, we may become nauseous and uncomfortable when moving. Have you ever sat on a train in a station and a train at the side of you pulls away? - your eyes tell the brain you are moving whilst your vestibular system tells your brain you are still. This can cause a slight feeling of dizziness or disorientation until the higher parts of your brain work out what is happening!
This is the sense of where all the parts of the body are in relation to each other. Can you close your eyes and then touch the end of your nose with your finger? If you can, this is proprioception in action. How else do you know where your finger and your nose are to be able to connect the two?
Many things we take for granted in life are greatly affected by how well this system is functioning. To write, we need to know where our fingers are and how to move them in relation to each other. Many children with poor proprioception will always find it a challenge to write letters in an automatic flowing style without pressing on too hard or too lightly.
These and other internal systems combine with the five senses to build the skills we need for school, sports and daily life. They can always be improved, meaning that all our programmes are not just for children and not just for people with learning or sensory challenges; everyone can benefit.
Vestibular - Where am I in space?
Proprioception - Where are all the parts of my body?
At Learning Solutions we specialise in helping you to understand what is happening for your child or yourself in terms of how your own sensory processing profile is affecting daily life. Take advantage of our free 15 minute consultation or book your Distance Consultation today to take the first step.
Perhaps you already know which programme is ideal for your child or yourself? These programmes are often recommended within reports by Educational Psychologists, Occupational Therapists, Speech and Language Therapists and others to improve sensory processing, timing and rhythm, working memory and other areas.
As well as the programmes below, we also work with a range of movement and reflex interventions such as Bi-Lateral Integration, Brain Gym, Reflex Integration and Rhythmic Movement programmes, You can be sure that we will develop a personalised plan based on the needs of yourself, your child or whole family.