Sensory processing, or Sensory Integration, is a complex neurological process that allows an individual to respond to their environment and current conditions in the most adaptive or efficient manner. Individuals first perceive or register sensations, process the meaning of the sensation based on current and past experiences, and then create an adaptive response to the information.
If an individual’s nervous system inaccurately perceives sensations (too intensely or not intensely enough), they may not process the information in a manner that matches the intensity of the situation. Additionally, children who demonstrate intact registration may experience processing differences, often impacted by previous experiences, and this too may result in response outcomes that do not appear to match the current situation.
These children are often described as having behavioral or emotional problems, but really their nervous system is delivering inaccurate information to the brain. If the nervous system is delivering sensory information in a skewed manner, children may demonstrate sensory seeking, avoiding, or sensitivities that interferes with their successful participation.
Sensory Integration (SI) intervention begins with a thorough assessment of vestibular, proprioceptive, visual, tactile, auditory, olfactory, gustatory, and kinesthetic functions. The trained SI therapist builds on areas of strength and delivers techniques to enhance neurological processing of areas working less efficiently. Improved neurological efficiency leads to improved autonomic nervous system (ANS) responses and overall regulation.