Sensory Processing in the Classroom Presented by: Laura Peregoy, MS, OTR/L
AGENDA • Introduction/What is OT? • Sensory Processing—What is it? • Sensory Processing--Development • Signs of Sensory Processing/Sensorimotor Problems • Conclusion • Questions
What is Occupational Therapy? • Occupational Therapy is the therapeutic use of self-care, work, and play activities to increase independent function, enhance development, and prevent disabilities [and] may include adaptation of task or environment to achieve maximum independence and to enhance quality of life. (AOTA, 1986) • OT’s are concerned with analyzing the child’s ability to perform in their everyday context. • OT’s have 2 broad goals for the children we serve: • To improve the child’s functional performance • To enhance the child’s ability to interact with his or her physical and social environments
Sensory Processing • Imagine….
Definition of Terms: • Vestibular • Proprioception • Tactile • Auditory • Visual • Olfactory • Gustatory
Vestibular • The vestibular system is the sensory system that responds to changes in head position in relation to gravity, acceleration and deceleration. • The vestibular receptors are the hair cells located in and around the inner ear and are responsible for the detection of changes in head position and movement. • The vestibular system provides such information as: Are you moving? Are you right side up or upside down? How fast are you going? What direction? • The vestibular system influences muscle tone in certain muscle groups, equilibrium responses, emotional responses to movement, and even mood and behavior. Dysfunction in the vestibular system may result in the avoidance and fearfulness of movement activities or in a lack of awareness of heights and the resulting danger.
Proprioception • Proprioception refers to the internal awareness of one’s body as received through muscle and joint receptors and is stimulated by active movement. • Proprioceptive input provides us with an internal map of our body as well as provides information to the brain on how the body is moving and the position of a body part at any given moment in time.
Tactile • The sense of touch • Pertains to the awareness or perception of the location or change in position of an external stimulus applied to the skin. • There are 2 subsystems: It is necessary for the two systems to be balanced and work together. • Protective System: The pain and temperature channel serves as protective touch as it alerts the body to any potentially harmful or dangerous stimuli. • Discriminative System: Gives the body information about the quality of the stimuli.
Auditory • The sense of hearing • Auditory processing refers to the brain’s ability to apply meaning to this sensory information (sounds) and not to how well the ear is hearing (auditory acuity).
Visual • The sense of sight • Visual processing refers to the brain’s ability to apply meaning to the sensory information (vision) and not how well the eye is seeing (visual acuity). • Includes: visual memory, visual sequential memory, visual discrimination, visual closure, visual spatial relationships, visual form constancy, and visual figure-ground.
Olfactory • This sense of smell. The olfactory information goes to a deep portion of the brain and has a very strong emotional overflow that strongly affects feelings and emotions.
Gustatory • The sense of taste • Gustatory perception is dependent on olfactory sensation.
Signs of Sensory Processing and Sensorimotor Problems • Sensory: • Spinning • Headbanging • Outbursts • Emotional instability • Poor eye contact • Dislikes change • Avoids motor play • Poor awareness of self in space • Poor control in regard to self-stimming • Hand flapping
Signs of Sensory Processing and Sensorimotor Problems • Repetitive speech • Biting • Clumsiness • Floppy muscle tone • Does not like touch • Cannot feel touch • Poor or no midline crossing • Poor coordination between the two sides of the body • Short attention span • Hyperactive
Signs of Sensory Processing and Sensorimotor Problems • Decreased ability to concentrate • Decreased ability for abstract thought • Decreased oral motor skills stemming from the sensory organs • Decreased gravitational security • Decreased balance
Signs of Sensory Processing and Sensorimotor Problems • Motor: • Raised shoulders • Poor gross motor skills • Disjointed appearance • Poor fine motor skills • Poor handwriting • Appears “tight” or “rigid” during activity • Toe walkers • “Bird” walk
Conclusion • Sensory Processing or sensory integration refers to the brain’s ability to assign meaning to incoming sensory stimuli. • Sensory Processing is different for every person and may vary day by day or even minute by minute.
References • Ayres, A. Jean. Sensory Integration and the Child. Western Psychological Services, Los Angeles, CA 1979 • Case-Smith, Jane; Allen, Anne; Pratt, Pat Nuse. Occupational Therapy for Children. Mosby, Gainsville, Georgia, 1996 • Denniger-Bryant, Debra J. Sensory Integration: Its Effect on Learning, Behavior and Motor Control. Presentation; September 28-29, 2006 • Kranowitz, Carol Stock. The Out-of-Sync Child. Skylight Press Books, New York, 1998