More Than The Five Senses

Before I started working with kids with autism, I had heard quite a bit about sensory input. My sister is a pediatric occupational therapist and works a lot with sensory integration. Then when I started working in the school setting, I had one of the best occupational therapists working with my students. I have been privileged to be in the midst of some great occupational therapists throughout my career.

We always hear about the 5 senses, and then we hear about the 6th sense. Well, there is really a 6th sense and a 7th and probably more. The way we experience the world we live in is quite incredible, I have to say. There is so much to process, and our bodies are capable of so much.

I just want to give a quick overview of three of our senses: tactile, vestibular, and proprioceptive.  Some kids may be seekers, and others may be avoiders. And a kid can be a seeker in one area and an avoider in another. We are all different, and so we individualize our approach 🙂

TACTILE: This is how we take in information through our skin, we process information about touch with this sense. This includes how we process lighter touch. Different textures may have different reactions. Some textures you may want to think about are soft, hard, slimy, wet, gooey, crunchy, fuzzy, hot, cold. 

VESTIBULAR: This is how we receive information through our inner ear. It has to do with movement, gravity, and balance. Some activities you may look at to see if your child avoids or seeks might be swinging, spinning, running, climbing, rocking, bouncing, etc.

PROPRIOCEPTIVE: This is how we take in information through our muscles, ligaments, and joints. We process information about body position and body parts. Activities might include wrestling, tickling, being buried in pillows, crashing into things, pushing heavy things, etc.

As we are more aware of a child’s sensory motor profile, we can facilitate activities in these areas to promote greater engagement and help in the child’s development.

If you’re interested, here’s another post I did a while back about our sensory systems:

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