What is Sensory Integration?

Sensory Integration (SI)  (sometimes called “sensory processing” ) is a term that refers to the way that the brain receives messages from the senses (hearing, vision, touch, smell, taste, movement and body position) and turns them into appropriate motor and behavioural responses.

Specifically:

  • Auditory (hearing)

  • Visual (vision)

  • Tactile (touch) 

  • Vestibular (balance and movement)

  • Proprioception (body position and awareness)


​This information is organised in our central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) in order for us to be able to take in, process, integrate and respond to the sensory inputs.

SI influences our ability to regulate our arousal level (alertness and attention),  which needs to be at an optimum level for children to be able to look, listen, learn and respond appropriately to all situations.

Sensory Integration helps us to achieve the right level of alertness, excitement, and focus for different tasks.  Children with sensory processing difficulties often have difficulties staying in a calm, alert state. They tend to appear to have difficulties with focusing and attention and can sometimes look withdrawn, or alternatively look “wild” or be constantly “on the go”. 

 

For most children, Sensory Integration develops during the course of ordinary daily childhood activities. Motor planning ability is a natural outcome of this process, as is the ability to adapt to incoming sensations. But, for some children, sensory integration does not develop as efficiently as it should. When this process is mixed up, a number of problems in learning, development and behaviour may become evident.

 

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