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Sensory Processing: What is it?

While the answer to this question can be complex and technical, there is always a way to make it understandable to everyone.

Sensory processing is when you take in something from your environment (i.e. a sensation), your brain processes the information and gives a response. For example, you are outside in the sun, your brain says your body is hot and you jump in the pool. However, for some children the information gets stuck in their brain. This leads to different responses which may or may not be considered appropriate for the situation.

Here is a scenario of your typical classroom: you are a child in a classroom, all the lights are on, children are bumping into you on the way back to their desk from circle time, everyone is grabbing materials, oh and the teacher is talking over everyone to make sure everyone is following direction.

For children with sensory processing challenges, this scenario can play out many different ways.

Here are a few examples: 1) you go hide in the corner and bring your favorite toy with you, not engaging with any child or adult in the room 2) you run around the room and it looks like you are following along but you are bumping into everyone else and not collecting materials 3) you crawl to your seat, slouch in your chair, maybe lean on the kid next you, and star at the ceiling 4) you become extremely upset when someone bumps into you, you may cry, scream, hit, etc.

For all of these examples, all of the information coming in from this multi-sensory environment came into the brain and got stuck. Depending on where in the brain things got stuck and how this child's brain operates on a regular basis lead to a different response. Also, these are not all the potential responses, but a few examples to help paint the picture of what things might look like. There are many factors which impact a child's response to their environment.

Consider this an introduction into sensory processing. We will go more into the science behind it in our next blog post.

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