What is Sensory Processing?
Sensory experiences include touch, movement, body awareness, sight, sound and the pull of gravity. The process of the brain organizing and interpreting this information is called sensory integration. Sensory integration provides a crucial foundation for later, more complex learning and behavior.
For most children, sensory integration develops in the course of ordinary childhood activities. Motor planning ability is a natural outcome of the process, as the ability to apdapt to incoming sensations. But for some children sensory integration does not develop as efficiently as it should. When the process is disordered, a number of problems in learning, development or behavior may become evident.
If a child is suspected of having a sensory integrative disorder an evaluation can be conducted by a qualified occupational therapist. Evaluations usually consist of both standardized testing and structured observations of responses to sensory stimulation, posture, balance, coordination, and eye movements. After carefully analyzing test results and other assessment data along with information from other professionals and parents, the therapist will make recommendations regarding appropriate therapy.
If therapy is recommended, the child will be guided through activities that challenge his or her ability to respond appropriately to sensory input by making successful, organized responses. Most children are motivated to seek out activities that provide sensory experiences most beneficial to them at their point in development. It is this active involvement and exploration that enables the child to become a more mature, efficient organizer of sensory information.