Sensory processing or sensory integration refers to how our body receives, understands, and uses information from the senses. One component of this process is sensory integration, which includes interpretation, coordination, and organization of sensation. Efficient sensory integration enables us to plan appropriate action and behavior and learn new skills. Sensory information comes from all senses and may originate from one’s body (balance sense, joint and muscle sense, touch sense) or the environment (sight, sound, temperature, and texture).  The two sensory integration components are sensory modulation and sensory discrimination. These components are interrelated and important for the acquisition of motor and perceptual skills.

 

Sensory Modulation: Refers to the nature and intensity of our reactions to sensation.  This includes whether a sensation arouses or calms, irritates or soothes, distracts or help focus attention, feels threatening or comforts.  Effective sensory modulation enables us to make an appropriate response. Problems in sensory modulation may affect behavior, emotions, motor responses and other skills.

 

Sensory Discrimination:  Sensory discrimination is the ability of the nervous system to identify the type and quality of sensory input, such as the size and shape of an object, the direction of a noise, and the position of our body as we move through space, and then interpret this information for the development of motor skills. When a person experiences difficulty discriminating sensory information, they may experience gross and fine motor delays, motor planning and coordination deficits, and difficulties with social interactions. (AOTA, 2021)

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