What is sensory processing or sensory (motor) integration?

Sensory Processing

What is sensory processing or sensory (motor) integration?

When we see, feel, smell, taste or hear something with our senses it is called perception.

Often such a perception is a motive for us to respond, or the reverse, not to respond. But even when carrying out daily activities such as eating or getting dressed, we use the information of these perceptions. The cooperation between perception on the one hand and the resulting activity on the other hand is called sensory processing (or sensory modulation). Children use it for example when they are playing.

In sensory processing, also called sensory integration, the sense of being touched and moved, and the sense of posture and movement take important parts. The importance of a proper use of these senses for the development of the child can be explained by the role they play in keeping balance and stability. Maintaining balance has always priority over performing other activities. The different types of feeling/sensing work closely together, but each has a different function in this process.

The sense of being touched

The sense for touch is situated mainly in our skin. This enables us to feel it when we are touched, and to feel if something is either warm or cold, or hard or soft. It enables us also to feel if it is pleasant to be touched by someone, but also to feel if the ground beneath our feet is solid enough to stand on. This sense gives us tactile information.

The sense of movement or balance

The information of the balance-organ, which is situated near the ear inside our head, is called the sense of equilibrium or balance. This organ gives us information about the position and movements of the head. As a result the balance-organ warns us if we threaten to fall. For example when tripping over a loose stone in the pavement. This sense is also called vestibular information.

The sense of posture and movement

This information comes from sensory cells in our muscles and joints. It gives us information in particular about the position of our body and the way we move ourselves. This sense is also called proprioceptive information.

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