What is Sensory Integration?

Sensory Integration

What is Sensory Integration?

Sensory integration is the process by which we receive information through our senses, organise this information, and use it to participate in everyday activities. 

Sensory integration is a subconscious and automatic neurological process that occurs in every person at all stages of life. Our brains take in information through our senses and organise it so that we are able to respond appropriately to particular situations and environmental demands. Sensory experiences include touch, movement, body position, vision, smell, taste, sound and the pull of gravity.

For most people sensory integration develops in the course of ordinary childhood activities. When a person has good sensory integration then they are able to process information automatically and efficiently. But for some people, sensory integration does not develop as efficiently as it should and can affect activities of daily living, academic achievement, behaviour or social participation.

Children can present with different types of sensory integration difficulties (also known as sensory processing difficulties). These include:

Hyper (over) sensitive

  • Fear of heights
  • Dislike of touch experiences eg nail cutting, messy play, hair cutting
  • Dislike of loud and sudden sounds
  • Avoidance of playground equipment (swings and slides)

Hypo (under) sensitive

  • Appears to have no fear or doesn’t feel pain
  • Seeks movement or touch opportunities (fidgets, rocks, runs about, leans on peers)
  • Mouths or chews things
  • Poor attention to the environment or people around

Motor Planning (praxis)

  • Appears clumsy
  • Difficulty creating movement ideas
  • Difficulty planning and executing new movements

Poor posture

  • Slouches at desk
  • Fidgets/difficulty sitting in one position for extended period of time
  • Impact on fine motor coordination & ball skills
  • Poor balance

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