1. Sensory Processing vs. Sensory Skills
Sensory processing is the way the brain takes in, organizes, and responds to information from the senses. Sensory skills are the ability to take in, process, and respond to information from the senses.
You can also think of sensory processing as the way the nervous system receives messages from the senses and turns them into responses, and sensory skills are the ability to use that information.
While sensory processing and sensory skills are important for everyone, they are especially relevant to children with ADHD or autism.
Kids with ADHD or autism have trouble with their sensory processing, which can lead to problems with their sensory skills. For example, people with ADHD may have trouble paying attention because they are over-stimulated by their environment. People with autism may have trouble communicating because they have difficulty understanding and interpreting sensory information.
There are ways to help those with ADHD or autism improve their sensory skills. For example, occupational therapy can help children learn how to better filter out background noise or work on tolerating certain textures or smells.
2. Different types of sensory processing disorders
Sensory processing disorders (SPD) are conditions in which the brain has difficulty receiving and responding to information that comes through the senses. SPD can make it difficult for a child to process and understand what they see, hear, smell, taste, touch, and feel. It can also affect a child’s ability to balance and coordinate their movements.
There are three main types of sensory processing disorders: auditory, visual, and tactile.
Auditory processing disorder is a type of sensory processing disorder that affects the way the brain processes sound. Children with this disorder may have trouble understanding spoken language, or they may be sensitive to noise.
Visual processing disorder is a type of sensory processing disorder that affects the way the brain processes visual information. Children with this disorder may have trouble reading or they may be sensitive to light.
Tactile processing disorder is a type of sensory processing disorder that affects the way the brain processes touch. Children with this disorder may be hypersensitive to touch or they may have trouble recognizing textures.
You can also categorize SPD based on levels of sensitivity. In this categorization, there are two main types of SPD: hypersensitivity and hyposensitivity. Kids with hypersensitivity are oversensitive to one or more sensory inputs. They may be sensitive to both external stimuli, such as noise or lights, and internal stimuli, such as hunger or pain. People with hyposensitivity are under-responsive to one or more sensory inputs. They may be less responsive to both external and internal stimuli.
Sensory processing disorders can lead to difficulties in everyday activities such as school or work.
If you think your child may have a sensory processing disorder, it is important to talk to your doctor or a qualified mental health professional for an evaluation. With proper diagnosis and treatment, most children with these disorders can lead happy and successful lives.
3. Sensory Skills
As mentioned, sensory skills are the ability to take in and respond to stimuli. There are five types of sensory skills: olfactory, tactile, gustatory, auditory, and proprioceptive. Olfactory refers to the sense of smell. Tactile refers to the sense of touch. Gustatory refers to the sense of taste. Auditory refers to the sense of hearing. And proprioceptive refers to the position and movement of the body. Each type of sensory skill is important in its own way.
- Olfactory skills are important for detecting danger, such as when there is a gas leak or a fire. They can also be used for finding food and tracking prey. The olfactory system is responsible for the sense of smell. This system is used to identify odors and to help in the navigation of the environment. The olfactory system consists of the nose, which houses the olfactory receptors, and the brain, which processes information from the receptors. The olfactory system can detect a wide range of odors. These odors can be pleasant, such as the smell of a flower, or unpleasant, such as the smell of rotting food. The ability to detect these odors allows us to navigate our environment and avoid dangerous situations. There are several factors that can affect our ability to smell. These include age, health, and exposure to certain chemicals. Age and health can cause a decrease in the number of functioning olfactory receptors.
- Gustatory skills are important for distinguishing between different flavors and identifying poisonous substances. Additionally, these skills can be used to detect potentially dangerous substances, such as spoiled food or poisonous chemicals. People with gustatory impairments may have difficulty identifying certain flavors or may be unable to taste anything at all. This can make it hard to enjoy favorite foods or even know if a food is safe to eat. There are several causes of gustatory impairments, including damage to the taste buds, nerve damage, and certain medical conditions. Fortunately, there are ways to improve gustatory skills. Some people may need therapy or counseling to learn how to identify different flavors. Others may benefit from using assistive devices, such as electronic tongue identifiers.
- Visual skills involve being able to see and interpret what you see. This includes being able to identify shapes, colors, and patterns. It also includes being able to track moving objects and understand spatial relationships. Optimal sensory skills are critical for success in many everyday activities, from reading and writing to driving and cooking. Although we often take our visual skills for granted, they are quite complex. There are three main types of visual skills: binocular, monocular, and depth perception. Binocular vision is when both eyes work together to see an object. This allows us to see things in 3D and judge distances accurately. Monocular vision is when only one eye is used to see an object. This is how most people see the world around them. Depth perception is the ability to see how far away an object is. This helps us avoid obstacles and judge distances when we are driving or playing sports. Visual skills can be affected by many factors, including age, health, and environment. For example, older adults typically have poorer vision than younger adults.
- Auditory skills involve being able to hear and interpret what you hear. This includes being able to discriminate between different sounds and identify the source of a sound. It also includes being able to understand and remember spoken language. These skills develop in utero and continue to develop throughout childhood. Auditory skills are important for academic success, as well as for social and emotional development. There are many ways to support the development of auditory skills. For infants and young children, singing lullabies and nursery rhymes is a great way to support the development of auditory skills. Reading aloud to children of all ages is also beneficial. As children get older, they can be encouraged to participate in group activities that require listening, such as storytelling or charades. Good auditory skills are important for all aspects of life. If you have concerns about your child’s auditory development, talk to your pediatrician or an audiologist. There are many resources available to help support the development of auditory skills.
- Proprioceptive skills involve being aware of your body in space and how it is moving. This includes being able to sense where your limbs are without looking at them and knowing how much force you are using when you interact with objects. The vestibular system is responsible for our sense of balance and movement. It is located in the inner ear and sends signals to the brain that help us keep our balance and know where our body is in space. Interoception is the sense of what is happening inside our bodies. It helps us know when we are hungry, thirsty, or need to go to the bathroom. It also helps us feel pain and know when we are injured.
There are many types of sensory skills, and children with ADHD or autism may benefit from developing them. Fine motor skills involve the use of small muscles to complete tasks such as writing or using a fork. Gross motor skills involve the use of large muscles to perform tasks such as walking or running. Visual motor skills involve the ability to coordinate what one sees with what one does, such as catching a ball. Auditory processing involves the ability to make sense of what one hears. Tactile processing involves the ability to process information through touch. Vestibular processing refers to the ability to process information about movement and balance. All these skills can be developed through specific therapies and activities.
4. The symptoms of sensory processing disorders
For many children, daily life is a series of overwhelming sensory experiences. From the sound of a fire alarm to the feel of a new shirt, everyday sensations can be overwhelming for those with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD).
While SPD can occur in people of all ages, it is most commonly diagnosed in children. Symptoms of SPD vary from person to person but can generally be grouped into three categories: over-responsivity, under-responsivity, and seeking sensation.
Over-responsivity refers to an increased sensitivity to certain stimuli. For example, a child with over-responsive hearing may cover their ears at the sound of a loud noise or refuse to wear certain fabrics because they are uncomfortable.
Under-responsivity is a condition in which the brain doesn't effectively process sensory information. This can lead to problems with learning, behavior, and social skills. People with under-responsivity often have trouble paying attention, may seem uncoordinated, and may be easily distracted. They may also have a low tolerance for noise and touch and may be prone to meltdowns or tantrums. While there is no cure for under-responsivity, early intervention and therapy can help people manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.
Sensation-seeking is a trait that has been found in humans across cultures. It is characterized by a need for novel and intense experiences. People who are high in sensation seeking are more likely to take risks, engage in risky behaviors, and seek out new and exciting experiences. The need for novelty and excitement can lead to positive outcomes, such as increased creativity, but it can also lead to negative outcomes, such as impulsive behavior and addiction. Sensation seekers need to find a balance between taking risks and being safe to live healthy and successful lives.
Sensory processing disorders can manifest in a variety of ways. One common symptom is difficulty with sensory skills. This can include problems with hearing, vision, touch, smell, and taste.
People with sensory processing disorders may also have trouble with attention and focus. They may be easily distracted or have difficulty paying attention to details. Additionally, they may be impulsive or have difficulty controlling their emotions.
Children with sensory processing disorders may have difficulty developing appropriate social skills. They may avoid eye contact, fail to respond to their name being called, or prefer to play alone. Additionally, they may engage in repetitive behaviors such as hand-flapping or spinning.
5. The causes of sensory processing disorders
There are many possible causes of sensory processing disorders. One theory is that the disorder is caused by a problem with the way the brain processes information from the senses. This theory is supported by the fact that many children with sensory processing disorders also have ADHD or autism, which are both conditions that involve problems with brain development.
Another theory is that sensory processing disorders are caused by an imbalance in the levels of certain chemicals in the brain. This theory is supported by the fact that many children with sensory processing disorders also have problems with anxiety or depression, which are both conditions that involve imbalances in brain chemistry.
Whatever the cause of sensory processing disorders, it is clear that they can have a significant impact on a child's development and quality of life.
6. The impact of sensory processing disorders
Sensory processing disorders (SPD) can have a significant impact on an individual’s life. SPD can affect not only the individual but also their family and friends.
SPD can cause difficulties with everyday activities such as getting dressed, eating, and playing. It can also affect concentration, sleep, and mood. SPD can make it hard for an individual to cope in busy or noisy environments.
Children with sensory processing disorders may also have difficulty with attention and focus, which can impact their ability to learn and remember information. Additionally, children with these disorders may be more prone to anxiety and depression.
People with SPD often have other conditions such as ADHD or autism. This means that they may need extra support to help them manage their condition.
There is no cure for SPD but there are ways to manage it. Occupational therapy can help people with SPD to develop coping strategies and find ways to make everyday tasks easier. With the right support, people with SPD can lead happy and fulfilling lives.