Children’s Therapy Group is here as a resource when you don’t know where to turn.
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|Our Sensory Systems||Sensory Tips|
|Local Clinics||Online Resources|
|Poss-Abilities Children’s Therapy Group||The Sensory Spectrum|
|Heartland Therapeutic Riding||ADDitude|
|Books||Lemon Lime Adventures|
Our Sensory Systems
The Vestibular System: This system gives us our sense of space-fast, slow, up,
down, around, or in a straight line. The receptors are located in the inner ear. It helps
us with balance and our comfort in our world including such things as climbing on a
ladder, playing on playground equipment, or riding in a car or elevator.
The Tactile System: This system helps us to understand our world through touch.
The receptors are located in our skin. At times, it is protective such as when we brush
away a mosquito or pull away from a hot stove. Other times, it gives us information
about the quality of the touch such as soft, hard, smooth, rough, or the shape, which
allows us to identify objects without vision. Finding the light switch in the dark or finding
your keys in your purse are examples of this.
The Proprioception System: This sense gives us the ability to know, without looking,
our body position. The receptors are located in the muscles. It also helps us know how
hard to push a door closed, how to handle an egg with care, or pet a kitten gently. We
get this information from pulling, pushing, lifting, carrying, and squeezing.
The Auditory System: This sense helps us understand our world through sound. The
receptors are located in the ear. Not just hearing the sound but also discriminating the
qualities of sound, it allows us to locate where the sound is coming from, tell the
difference between similar sounds such as cup and cut, in addition to the determining
the sound’s volume and pitch.
The Gustatory and Olfactory Systems: Gustatory, our sense of taste, helps us
discriminate sweet, salty, sour, and bitter. The receptors are located in our tongue.
Additional touch receptors are located in the mouth that tell us about food texture. It
also protects us by alerting us to potential dangers like rotten food.
Olfactory is our sense of smell. It is very powerful. Not only can it alert us to danger
such as smoke, but it can trigger an emotional response. A pleasant smell such as a
baby’s skin or a loved one’s perfume can instantly evoke memories. Conversely, a
negative reaction can be triggered by certain smells that a person finds unpleasant
(such as fish day in the lunchroom). In addition, it is thought to be about 80% of our
ability to taste.
The Visual System: This system is our vision sense. The eyes are the receptors. We
get information about our world such as size, color, location (near and far), and
movement. It helps direct our hands and allows us to process complex symbols like we
use in reading. It can protect us too by alerting us to dangers in the environment.
The Sensory System: When we put all of these systems together and integrate all the
information, we are able to engage with our world. Our sensory system allows us to
move in a skilled manner and do complicated activities such as playing on the
playground equipment, playing a sport, or learning to play piano. It also keeps us safe
and allows us to build relationships with others.
The touch system (tactile) helps us learn about our world. The tactile
system helps us discriminate properties such as texture, size, shape, etc.
To enhance these abilities, try activities that incorporate no vision and
require the child to identify shape, texture, or to match objects.
Deep pressure touch (tactile) is calming. Try deep bear hugs, firm
massages, wrapping up tightly in a blanket like a cocoon, or making a
“sandwich” out of couch cushions with your child in-between them to calm.
Light quick touch (tactile) is arousing to the nervous system. To “wake”
up, try a light tickle, playing in various dry materials such as beans or sand,
or rubbing different textures on arms and legs.
Sensory input to the joints and muscles (proprioception) calms and
organizes the body. Try some of these activities before a more demanding
task such as homework; tug-a-war, “animal” walks (bear, crab, seal, etc.),
donkey kicks, wall push-ups, jumping up and down, or squeezing play doh.
Fast, rotary movement (vestibular) is arousing. If you need to “wake” up,
try dancing to fast music, spinning, or running a relay race.
Slow, rhythmic movement is calming (vestibular). Try rocking in a
rocking chair, rhythmic bouncing on a large ball, or gentle, rhythmic
swinging to calm down.
Certain smells can alert or calm (olfactory). Lavender is calming.
Peppermint is alerting and apple is said to help with concentration.
Chewy foods are organizing to the nervous system (oral). Foods such as
chewy granola bars, beef jerky, bagels, chewy candy, or gum are all great
Sucking your thumb or on a straw is calming (oral). Use a straw at snack
or meal times or suck on hard candy for calming input.
Crunchy foods are alerting to the nervous system (oral). Pretzels,
popcorn, crackers, raw veggies, or nuts are all great choices.
Some types of music actually decrease the heart rate and therefore are
calming (auditory). Classical music with beats of 70 beats per minute or
less, rhythmic drumming, chanting, or nature sounds are all calming types
of auditory input.
Picky, Picky Pete A Boy and his Sensory Challenges by Michelle Griffin
This is Gabriel Making Sense of School by Hartley Steiner
Why Does Izzy Cover Her Ears? Dealing with Sensory Overload by Jennifer Veenendall
Meghan’s World The Story of One Girl’s Triumph over Sensory Processing Disorder by Diane M. Renna
Arnie and His School Tools by Jennifer Veenendall
The Goodenoughs Get in Sync by Carol Stock Kranowitz
Sensitive Sam Sam’s Sensory Adventure Has a Happy Ending! by Marla Roth-Fisch
Squirmy Wormy: How I Learned to Help Myself by Lynda Farrington Wilson
My Great Big Feelings by C M Tolentino
I’m Not Weird, I Have Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) by Chynna Laird