Each day, as you go about your daily activities, you receive stimuli or information through your senses. In a process known as ‘sensory integration,’ your brain will then organise and interpret all this information, enabling you to respond to it appropriately and successfully interact with the environment around you.
It goes without saying that our senses are very important to how we function, as they help us to “make sense” of the world and understand what’s going on. We can even use all our senses without even realizing it. But while most of us are well aware of the five basic senses, there are actually three more sensory systems that are rarely mentioned. Here’s a list of all the eight senses:
- Sight (Vision)
- Hearing (Auditory)
- Smell (Olfactory)
- Taste (Gustatory)
- Touch (Tactile)
- Vestibular (Movement)
- Proprioception (Body awareness and position)
- Interoception (Inner body sensations)
Sensory milestones and issues
From infancy, children use their senses to learn things about the world. As they grow older, they achieve sensory milestones, such as developing better depth perception, having increased smell preferences, recognising and reacting to sounds, crawling and grabbing, and enjoying a wider variety of taste.
However, many children with autism and other developmental disabilities may experience challenges in receiving, organising and processing incoming stimuli. These issues are believed to be caused by a neurological dysfunction in the central nervous system.
This dysfunction in the sensory system may result in one or more of the child’s senses being over or under stimulated, or a mixture of both, leading to varying degrees of problems in the child’s development, information processing and behaviour. As each child responds to sensory input differently, sensory issues are considered very complex, and the issues may manifest in many ways. Here are some examples of sensory issues:
- Poor attention and focus.
- Delays in speech, motor skills or learning
- Poor body awareness and coordination
- Highly sensitive or under reactive to touch, movement, sights, or sounds.
- Impulsive and lacking in self-control
- Difficulty in regulating emotions
- Highly active or under active
- Immature social skills
- Difficulty with transitions between activities or environments
What to do if you suspect sensory issues
If you notice your child having difficulties with everyday tasks and suspect a sensory issue, it is best to consult a professional who can address your concerns and assess your child. They can help you better understand your child’s sensory issues and suggest sensory integration therapies that can help improve your child’s daily function.
Here at The Energy Source, our multidisciplinary team is dedicated to helping your child with his or her sensory needs. Our paediatric specialists include Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists, Speech & Language Therapists, Clinical Psychologists, Developmental Psychologists, Music Therapists and Early Childhood Specialists.
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