Sensory Processing (also known as Sensory Integration) refers to how our nervous system receives messages from our senses and turns them into an “appropriate” motor and behavior response. Developing our understanding of both sensory integration and the development of mutual and self regulation is an important part of providing responsive and individualized care to young children. To read more, click on development of self and mutual regulation.
“Every child has a unique way of taking in and responding to information from the senses, creating a unique profile of preferences and tolerances. Every child must also cope with a unique environment, composed of all the adults and children, places and things, sights, sounds, smells, textures, flavors, routines, transitions, and interruptions that make up daily life” (Williamson and Anzalone).
Self regulation is something all of us develop throughout life, it is understanding what each of us needs to maintain a calm and alert state, and is a core foundation for learning and relationships. When children have challenges with developing self-regulation, it could be due to environmental stressors and/or the child’s unique differences and/or temperament. All individuals differ in their ability to take in, organize, and respond to sensations in the world around them. These differences can greatly impact how a child is able to manage feelings, attention, or impulses. These are examples of behaviors that indicate challenges with self-regulation, and/or sensory processing:
- Trouble maintaining attention or focus, making it difficult to finish activities
- Ongoing and significant impulsivity
- Hyperactivity at home and in other environments
- Lots of trouble with change and transitions
- Hypersensitivity to light, sound, touch, or movement
- Hyposensitivity (lower than average) to light, sound, touch, or movement
- Trouble maintaining or establishing a consistent sleeping or feeding routine
- Trouble managing strong emotions; may hit, punch, or bite
- Frequent trouble waiting; quickly becomes agitated or frustrated when asked to do something
The purpose of these sensory processing disorder checklist is to help parents and professionals who interact with children become educated about particular signs of sensory processing dysfunction. It is not to be used as the absolute diagnostic criteria for labeling children with sensory processing disorder. But rather, as an educational tool and checklist for your own knowledge. Professionals, usually OTs (Occupational Therapists, with special training on Sensory Processing Disorders) who can diagnose this disorder have their own tools in addition to checklists to observe and test for sensory integration dysfunction.
Click here to read an Introduction to Sensory Processing Concepts.
READINGS (for my ECE 146 students)
Article on Self Regulation-The Second Core Strength by Bruce Perry
Two part Article on Sensory Processing in Young Children by Terryre Witte (Quality Child Care Collaborative)
Click here for a more indepth link to “An Introduction to Identification & Intervention for Children with Sensory Processing Difficulties”
For more information on Self-Regulation and issues related to early childhood, check out the following informative website: