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What is Sensory Processing

Sensory processing is the ability to share information and stimuli form your environment and your own body, to select it and then process it. This information is needed to respond adequately to all information and incentives.

We are talking about information and incentives that you acquire and process. This information you get through your senses. There are five senses that are known to the most of us, touch, see, hear, smell and taste. Balance and you muscles and joints are also counted among your senses, because they give important information about yourself and your surroundings.

Problems in sensory processing may occur in children and adults. By the provision of targeted and specific activities you can encourage a persons adequate process of different information and incentives. Make sure that different experiences are not only gained passive, but also through direct actions of the children. Try to challenge them as much as possible.

Within the theory of sensory processing is often spoken of alertness. Alertness is the neurological mechanism that helps the body to focus his attention to the right circumstances. Conditions for alertness, for example, interest, variety, good health and mindfulness. Alertness you need for example in the classroom to pay attention for the activities of the teacher. Alertness is also needed to respond if your name is called.

The degree of alertness can be classified in into five levels, wich are called states. Everyone has by each situation its own optimal level of alertness. The five states are in the program, The Alert Program : How Does Your Engine Run, described as follow.
State 1 : Sleeping, we let the most incentives go past us.
State 2 : Awake and unfocused passive or unfocused active already, some of the incentives go past us.
State 3 : Awake and focused active, this condition enables us to get all important information at us.
State 4 : Awake and tense active or even awake and tense passive, part of the intencives we interpretet as dangerous. State 5 : Cry, scream, fight, flight or fright, we respond to stimulis as if we are in danger and get even harder to cry or scream.

sometimes there are children with a sensory defensiveness what today is called hyperresponsivity. This is an exaggerated protective response to sensory stimuli. For us normal incentives are received too strong inside, so that a child may react with agitated avoidance behavior or even with fear, crying, pushing etc. There are also children with an hyporesponsivity. Here the for us normal stimuli are hardly or not at all received inside. These children may appear silently or uninterested.

An occupationale therapist, physical therapist or speech therapist with an sensory processing specialization can observe the sensory processing. In consultation with the parents, teacher and others they can decide if treatment is needed of modifications to the environment. On the website of the NSSI you can find under the button "verwijzingen" an list of therapists in your region in the Netherlands with a registered training in the field of sensory processing.

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