What is Sensory Integration?
Sensory integration is the process by which we receive information through our senses, organize this information, and use it to participate in everyday activities.
Most people are familiar with five senses – sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. However, we also receive input through two additional senses:
The vestibular sense, or movement and balance sense, gives us information about where our head and body are in space. It allows us to stay up right while we sit, stand, and walk.
Proprioception, or body awareness sense, tells us where our body parts are relative to each other. It also gives us information about how much force to use in certain activities, allowing us to crack open an egg without crushing it in our hands.
Most activities require us to combine information from many different senses at the same time.
For example, a toddler uses touch to explore the texture of his food, proprioception to bring the food to his mouth, smell and taste to identify different types of food, and the vestibular sense to sit upright during the meal.
As they grow, children learn how to take in and process all this information at the same time, and focus their attention on particular sensations while ignoring others.
Some children have difficulties receiving and processing incoming sensations, making everyday tasks frustrating.
Signs of a sensory issue: