Do you know what the 5 senses are? How about the 3 hidden senses?
The 8 sensory systems are: Visual, Auditory, Touch, Taste, Smell, Body Awareness (proprioception), Vestibular (balance and position in space), and Interoception (internal sensations coming from within the body). Let’s do a quick review of each sensory system…
Visual Processing: Visual processing includes acuity which measures how clearly you can see things up close and far away. For example, 20/20 vision is acuity. Visual processing also includes other important ocular abilities that involve coordinated eye muscle movement. The first is fixation, or visual attention. This skill is essential to have steady visual attention on an object and also impacts a child’s ability to concentrate and focus. Saccades are the smooth movements of the eyes in order to smoothly track, such as when reading. Pursuits are the ability to following a moving object with your eyes only (not turning your head).
Auditory Processing: Auditory processing is your sense of hearing as well as auditory discrimination which helps you know what sounds to pay attention to and where the sound is coming from. It helps you filter out background noise and listen to the speaker. This is essential for being able to hone in on the teacher’s voice in spite of the noisy background in the classroom. Listening is a complex process that involves both hearing and processing sounds.
Tactile Processing: Your sense of touch senses light pressure touch. These receptors are located in the skin and detect temperature, vibration and pain. Touch processing is important to alert us of danger. Tactile discrimination affects fine motor skills and body awareness. For example, if you have a nickel and a dime in your pocket, can you reach into your pocket and tell which one is the nickel without having seen it? This is using tactile discrimination.
Olfactory Processing: Your sense of smell relies upon chemical receptors that send messages directly into the limbic system which is the center for our emotions, memory, pleasure and learning. The sense of taste and smell work together to give pleasure and also serve to protect us from potentially noxious situations.
Vestibular Processing: Receptors are located in the inner ear and are stimulated by movement of the head and input from other senses. Vestibular input influences your balance, sense of position in space, postural control, tolerance for movement, emotions and arousal level. Well-modulated vestibular activity is very important for maintaining a calm-alert state.
Proprioceptive Processing: These deep pressure touch receptors are located in the muscles joints and ligaments. Deep pressure touch and heavy work activities promote body awareness, position in space and have a calming effect.
Interoceptive Processing is the ability to detect internal sensations from one’s own body are located in the insular cortex of the brain. Interoception is important for detecting physiological functions such as heart rate and breathing, hunger, thirst, toileting. This is combined with an awareness of emotion and a subjective intensity of emotion and perception. Activities such as mindfulness, deep breathing techniques and body scanning engage the interoceptive sense.
Interested in learning more about sensory processing challenges?
When you see a behavior or an unexpected response, do you know if it’s a sensory processing problem or behavior?
Not sure if it’s a sensory problem? For a Free Preschool Checklist Click Here.
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