More recently in education, there has been a larger focus on sensory needs. More and more schools are introducing sensory circuits and sensory snacks into their daily routine and society as a whole is starting to understand that, as individuals, we have different sensory needs and that we all process sensory information differently. So, what is sensory processing?

Sensory processing is the way we take in, process and respond to information. This information could be from our bodies, such as the way we react to pain, or from the world around us, such as how we process the sound of a loud alarm. Sensory processing is a subconscious process which occurs in the brain and in the nervous system and we all have different ways of processing sensory input based on our experiences and preferences.

Remember, sensory processing involves our five main senses which you are probably aware of: sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch; but we also have other senses which most people are not aware of. These are proprioception (our body awareness), our vestibular sense (our sense of movement and gravity) and interoception (our brain’s understanding of what is happening in our body). Again, every single person will differ in terms of how they process information. Whilst one individual may be very under-sensitive to taste, for example, and prefer spicy or intensely flavoured food, another individual can be over-sensitive to taste and actively avoid seasoned, spicy or overly sweet or sour foods. More information on these senses and how over-sensitivity or under-sensitivity may present, please see out training on Sensory Processing and Sensory Provision.

Our sensory processing allows us to respond and adapt to our environment and it is needed for our motor skills, behaviour and learning. Stay tuned as for our next blog post, we will be considering why we need to be aware of sensory processing and provision and potential difficulties in sensory processing in relation to our children and to education. For access to our training on Sensory Processing and Provision, written and delivered by Occupational Therapist Roz Roscoe, please see our training page here.

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