Sensory Integration Skills

Sensory Integration Skills



This refers to our sense of touch. The sense of touch is a child's

first way to learn about the external world. It is a critical sense to

developing relationships with primary care givers and to giving comfort.

The sense of touch plays a very important role in the child's development of

body awareness and is critical in the development of praxis (motor


  The tactile system serves two functions. One function is to protect us from stimuli that are interpreted as harmful by the brain. Individuals with an overly sensitive or under responsive tactile system interpret touch differently. When tactile inputs are misinterpreted as being harmful, stimulation from certain types of clothing, food, texture, or unexpected touch may elicit emotional reactions such as pulling away, striking out, or increased or agitated activity. This routine misinterpretation or unusual reaction to touch is referred to as tactile defensiveness. The second function of the tactile system involves the discrimination of touch that enables us to learn about and identify size, shape and texture of objects in the environment. Tactile discrimination allows one the ability to distinguish the difference between a coin and key in one’s pocket or to realize a piece of food in still on your lips. Tactile processing difficulties also impair awareness of tongue and mouth is seen with selectivity of food textures and speech delay.  Hypersensitivity to touch will result in a flight or fight response to unexpected or light touch. 

  • The touch section   measure the child's responses to touch to the skin, i.e.: becomes  irritated by shoes or socks, itchy material, doesn't like wind blowing on their skin, and doesn’t feel anything. 


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This is information that the brain receives from our

muscles and joints to make us aware of body position and body movement.

Proprioceptive makes a strong contribution to praxis, to the child's ability to

grade movement and to postural control.

The proprioception system is comprised of a variety of receptors within our muscles, joints, ligaments, and tendons. These receptors provide feedback regarding the amount of force a muscle is exerting, the position of a body part in space, and assist with providing feedback to perform gross and fine motor activities. The receptors in the muscles also constantly provide feedback to the brain creating postural tone and balance. Challenges in this area can result in poor body awareness, poor static balance, difficulties in motor sequencing, or difficulties self-regulating during movement. 


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information from our joints to let us know where our body is in space.


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This is the sense that allows us to recognize how we are

moving in relationship to gravity. Receptors in our ears sense if we are

upright, upside down, moving sideways, spinning, etc. As a result of this

sensory input, we make adjustments to posture and to our eye movements.

Vestibular sensation has a strong impact not only on posture and eye

movements, but also on: balance, coordination of the two body sides, and

emotional control. Accurate vestibular processing is essential for the

development of praxis.    

The vestibular system receives information from receptors inside the inner ear regarding the position of the head, the detection of movement, and direction of movement. The sensations of input gathered by the vestibular system have a direct bearing on one’s sense of balance, head control, eye gaze, and postural muscle tone. It is responsible for balance and bilateral coordination (coordinating movements of the arms and legs and the right and left sides of the body). The vestibular system is neurologically connected to the visual and proprioceptive systems. Together these three systems develop “maps” which are used to navigate the body successfully through space and perform a wide variety of motor activities. If these systems are impaired the child cannot develop a motor map and he/she has a hard time coordinating movements to skip, pedal a bicycle, cut with scissors, or draw a circle on a piece of paper. Delayed motor planning affects the child’s future preschool and academic success, since performing activities such as writing, cutting, and reading all involve complex motor sequences.

  • This section measures the child's responses to balance and movement, i.e.: becomes anxious or distressed when feet leave the ground, has trouble walking on uneven surfaces, car sickness, headaches 


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The vision system is connected to all the other sensory system. Vision is paired with movement to give an understanding of position in space. It is paired with touch to give the understanding of form perception. This is not the same as eyesight. Visual processing is the ability to understand visual information, not perceive the stimulus at a specific distance from the eye. Hypersensitivity can result in sensitivity to light or visual distractions.    

  • This section includes  items that measure responses to things seen. i.e.: bothered by bright  light, doesn't look directly at objects, doesn't notice light, ignores      objects, and misses details. 


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 Taste: Taste discrimination helps the child discriminate food flavors. This in turn sets the child up for attending and focusing. Challenges in this area can result in poor perception of taste or a need for high intensity of sour or spice. Hypersensitivity may result in picky eating or gagging.


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 Olfactory: The ability allows the child to activate a strong memory system and emotions. It has the ability to calm or excite a child. Challenges in this area can result in hyper response or hypo response to which a child may be overly sensitive to smells or unable to notice smells in his/her environment.


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Auditory: Auditory information gives up the ability to perceive sounds and localize sound within the development. It is the foundation for language development. It connects with the brain area that is responsible for attending and focus. Hypersensitivity results in a flight or fight response to sudden or loud noises. Children can have difficulties with discriminating sounds, filtering sounds within the environment, or understanding the meaning of sound.


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