Sensory Integration is a term that many would have heard in recent years, but what exactly is it? Is it necessary for me to know more about it?

We are exposed to sensory input throughout the day and in everything that we do. As you sit reading this, you can feel the clothes on your body, hear the birds chirping outside, you are using your fingers to scroll through the post and so much more. Sensory Integration is defined as the process where we take up sensory input from our environment, organize it and respond to it appropriately. To make Sensory Integration easier to understand I like to divide it into two categories: Sensory Modulation and Sensory Discrimination.

Sensory Modulation has to do with the amount of input you process from the environment around you. Each of us has a threshold (which is how much input we take up from the world around us) and we can lie anywhere from hyper-responsive/over-responsive to hypo-responsive/under-responsive. I liken this to us and our kiddies being a pot plant. The size of the pot is our threshold and the water that we receive is the sensory input around us. A hyper/over-responsive person would be a smaller pot and a hypo/under-responsive person would be a large pot. A small pot can only take a small amount of sensory input before it overflows, which is detrimental to its growth. Likewise, a bigger pot needs LOTS of water if it doesn’t receive enough this would also be detrimental to its growth. We, therefore, need to receive the right amount of input according to our pot size.

Although we can differ for each of our systems below are some indications for where you may lie.

If we receive too much sensory input this leads to a state called overstimulation. Overstimulation can be seen by the following characteristics:

I believe sensory modulation is central to everyday life and if we know our pot size as well as our children’s then we can better respond to situations that may arise. This also plays a significant role in emotional regulation.

If you have any queries or concerns regarding your child’s modulation it would be beneficial to speak to an Ayres Sensory Integration trained OT.

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