I did a training last week and I was asked by one of the participants “How does the sensory system get affected?” “What is it from?”
I’ve seen sensory processing challenges in typical children and also those individuals with a diagnosis. I explain it is a developmental process and a lot of the time, a child just needs a developmental push in an area. Of course, there are other children that need a lot of sensory input or a decrease in input due to a diagnosis or perhaps exposure to chemicals during pregnancy or neglect.
We are Stimulated By Sensory Input Every Day
I also love to talk about how we all are processing sensory information every day. We all have preferences of how tight we like our clothing, if we want heavy blankets or light blankets on our body, what type of socks we like, we all eat certain foods to calm us or alert us. We are all taking sensory information in and then determining if it’s safe or if we should respond to it in a protective manner.
Examples of Reactions to Sensory Input
I was recently driving to do a presentation and I felt something move under my sleeve near my elbow. I imagined a spider and then I had to address the situation in a big hurry. Trying to keep my cool yet move as quickly as possible, I pulled over. I was pretty uncomfortable by that time. As I reached in my sleeve I pulled out a loop from the shoulder of my sweater. It was the loop for hanging up the garment.
This is a perfect example of how the tactile system warned me and then I needed to see if it was dangerous or if I was safe before I could disregard the input. My attention was taken up with the information and determining my safety in this example.
Another example would be when we move. As we move around and people move around us, we are able to not bump into people or have them bump into us, because we have fully developed proprioceptive systems. When a child is lacking body awareness or prorpioceptive skills, it’s important to integrate certain proprioceptive activities into a classroom setting to help a child develop more in this area.
These activities could be wearing a pressure vest or weighted blanket during circle time. I have written extensively on solutions to help children better develop their body awareness. You can check them out by clicking the links below.
What is a Weighted Blanket?
Personal Space Skill Building Tools For Preschoolers
Pressure Vests Help Children Develop Body Awareness
Proprioception and Picky Eaters
The sensory system is in place to keep us safe. It is always working on our behalf. And once you learn more about the three systems, tactile, proprioceptive and vestibular, it is easy to start to see your own sensory needs and preferences as well as being able to better assist children in your classroom with their sensory development.
If you think your Head Start, Early Start or preschool would be interested in learning more about my day training sessions on sensory processing, please either reach out to me at email@example.com