Keuka College Occupational Therapy Student, Allyson Muller, sharing information on Sensory Processing
Hello everyone my name is Allyson Muller and I am a master’s student from Keuka College currently partaking in a level 2 fieldwork experience here at Great Expectations until the end of March. It has been a joy working with this amazing staff and wonderful children. I wanted to take the time to introduce myself briefly as I will be posting some information on the blog and wanted to inform you as to where and who it was coming from. Thank you all for taking the time to visit this webpage and read the blog posts!
Sensory System? What’s it all about?
The sensory system is an elaborate component of our nervous system that is responsible for processing sensory information. This system consists of sensory receptors, neural pathways and parts of the brain that are involved in sensory perception. There are multiple elements that make up the entirety of our sensory system and at times the brain has difficulty receiving, responding, and/or processing the information it is presented with. As such, this is noted as a sensory processing disorder. The sensory system is made up of subsystems: tactile (touch), auditory(hearing), vestibular (balance/gravity receptors in the inner ear), visual (sight), proprioceptive (body awareness receptors in the joints and muscles), olfactory (smell), and gustation (taste). (http://classes.midlandstech.edu/carterp/Courses/bio110/chap09/chap09.htm)
Each system can regulate in three different states: hyperactive, neutral, and hypoactive. A neutral system would be considered “normal” or typical where the system is not concerned by the input presented. A hyperactive sensory system avoids the cause of the input, avoiding or minimally engaging with it. A hypoactive system requires an increased amount of the same input to reach the level of a typical system. For example, a child who may be hyperactive to touch may avoid touching different textures such as fluffy or wet. Where as a child with a hypoactive system would seek out these textures for an increased amount of time to reach their neutral state. These systems are individualized, as such no two are exactly alike. Because each child is unique, along with each system this makes understanding a child’s complete sensory system very difficult and requires a bit of detective work to recognize and begin implementing a plan to assist with their needs (Case Smith, Clifford O’Brien, 2015).
Behaviors can be a response for a child that has unmet seeking needs or for a child that is avoiding the input being presented to him or her. If, however these behaviors are sporadic and often involve adult direction this may be signs of an expression of temperament and may not be a manifestation of a sensory integration problem. Please keep in mind this is a very difficult area to discuss in a short blog post so please if you have any questions or concerns about your child’s sensory development, speak to your child’s physician and/or therapist (if already in place).
Posted on Thu, March 23, 2017
by Meg Morrison filed under