Sensory Processing – “What’s Going On?”
What is Sensory Processing?
Sensory processing is the ability of the brain to register and effectively process stimuli from the environment. It involves receiving, organising and responding in an appropriate and consistent way.
When observing and assessing development of sensory processing in your learners you need to be aware of the 7 senses. (smell, taste, touch, sight, sound, movement, and body awareness). Making a list of these areas for each child, and having a tick approach for achieved or developing senses, will allow you to assess each learner throughout the year for progress in their development and easy diagnosis of when intervention is needed.
Learners With Developing Sensory Processing Skills
Learners with developing sensory processing skills may display delays in communication and understanding of the environment. They may have:
- Heightened reactivity to noise and be hypersensitive to touch.
- Behaviour regulation may be a problem as they have difficulty understanding what is required of them.
- Poor motor skills, easy distractions, poor sleep patterns, and fussiness with food may all be part of the developmental process of sensory processing.
- If the learner has difficulty playing and sharing with peers and uses force instead of negotiation you may find sensory processing is not well developed.
Learning delays seen in the learning environment can occur in learners with poor sensory processing. They will display difficulty maintaining attention; poor concentration; disruptive behaviours; difficulty with speech and language skills; poor coordination; and delay in building a strong basic foundation for learning.
How To Enhance Sensory Processing
Development of sensory processing can be enhanced by repetition of sensory activities.
These activities will have to be fun, colourful and hands on. Keep them short as boredom and hypersensitivity can occur with over stimulation of the senses.
- Take opportunities to point out sensory experiences such as new tastes and smells; different sounds such as rain, or birds chirping; and demonstration and encouragement to play happily with other children.
- Model sharing, resting, appropriate communicating, and obeying simple commands.
- Encourage short problem solving activities.
- Use lots of praise and reinforcement of appropriate behaviours.
Share with parents effective techniques as they will have processes in place at home you may like to use in the learning environment for certain behaviours.
Understood has some great information on sensory processing if you are looking for further reading on this topic.
View our Visual Processing article.