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Sensory Presentation7 2009 3



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  • 1. Linda Gilles-Zirbes, OTR/L Occupational Therapist Palatine, IL The Sensory Systems, Processing and Strategies
  • 2. The Sensory Systems
    • Work together
    • Give us accurate picture of the world and our place in it
    • The brain uses sensory info in an organized way
  • 3. Sensory Processing
    • Is the receiving and perceiving of sensory info
    • Usually integration of sensory info is done without effort
    • Function of sensation is to aid in perception, the control of movement, and maintenance of arousal
  • 4. Sensory Processing
    • Components of Sensory Processing
    • 1. Sensory modulation
    • 2. Sensory discrimination
    • 3. Praxis
  • 5. Sensory Processing Processes
    • 1. Registration
    • 2. Orientation
    • 3. Interpretation
    • 4. Organization of a response
    • 5. Execution of a response
  • 6. Sensory Processing Problems
    • Possible causes and theories :
      • Do not adequately receive or process information from these sensory systems as different wiring
      • Genetics: quirkiness within the family tree
      • Prematurity: immature/ disorganized nervous system
      • Birth trauma, medical procedures, medically fragile all put one more at risk
      • Deprivation
      • Problems coexisting with other conditions
  • 7. The Sensory Systems 1. Tactile System
    • Largest and first system to develop
    • Tactile receptors throughout the body
    • This is the primary map of ME (homunculus)
    • Touch is important as an embryo and after birth
    • Touch gives us info and puts the boundaries in ME
  • 8. The Sensory Systems 1. Tactile System cont.
    • Types of Touch:
    • Light touch
    • Pressure touch
    • Vibration
    • Temperature
    • Pain Sensations
  • 9. The Sensory Systems 1. Tactile System cont.
    • Primary function of the tactile system is to help one feel comfortable with self and environment
    • Discriminative
    • Protective
  • 10. The Sensory Systems Tactile System Problems
    • More input Needed Behaviors
    • (passive under responsive or active seekers)
    • Avoiding Behaviors
    • (over responsive)
  • 11. The Sensory Systems 2. Vestibular System
    • It is located within the inner ear and has strong ties to the auditory and visual systems
    • It is the primary organizer and modulator of sensory input for self regulation
    • System is needed for balance, postural stability, muscle tone, use vision, plan actions, move, calm and regulate behavior
  • 12. The Sensory Systems 2. Vestibular System cont.
    • This input can either quiet, stimulate or organize one’s activity and alertness level
    • It is the strongest sensation
    • It puts the ME in my space
  • 13. The Sensory Systems 2. Vestibular System cont.
    • Functions of the vestibular system:
    • Protective
    • Discriminate
  • 14. The Sensory Systems Vestibular System Problems
    • More input Needed Behaviors
    • (passive under responsive or active seekers)
    • Avoiding Behaviors
    • (over responsive)
  • 15. The Sensory Systems 3. Proprioception System
    • Is the unconscious awareness of body position and important for postural stability, motor planning and grading of movements
    • Receptors located in muscles, joints, tendons, ligaments, and connective tissue
    • Function of vestibular system and proprioception system overlap as the prop. receptors respond to movement and gravity
    • Can not “overdose” on proprioceptive input
  • 16. The Sensory Systems 3. Proprioception System cont.
    • Certain prop. senses help with brain regulated arousal states and many of us use different strategies for self-regulation
    • Proprioception and self-stimulation/ self-injurious behaviors
    • Prop. input can filter out other unpleasant sensations
    • Puts ME in the picture- usable body map
  • 17. The Sensory Systems Proprioceptive System problems
    • More input Needed Behaviors
    • (passive under responsive or active seekers)
    • Avoiding Behaviors
    • (over responsive)
  • 18. The Sensory Systems 4. Auditory System
    • Receptors are located in the ear and give us info about sound
    • Has close connections with the vestibular system
    • Auditory processing : how the brain and central nervous system recognize and make sense of sounds
  • 19. The Sensory Systems Auditory System Problems
    • More input Needed Behaviors
    • (passive under responsive or active seekers)
    • Avoiding Behaviors
    • (over responsive)
  • 20. The Sensory Systems 5. Visual System
    • Sensory receptors located in the eye with info sent to the brain to be perceived, sorted and processed
    • Visual and vestibular connection
    • Visual system is important to the learning of new motor skills until it becomes familiar
  • 21. The Sensory Systems 5. Visual System Problems
    • More input Needed Behaviors
    • (passive under responsive or active seekers)
    • Avoiding Behaviors
    • (over responsive)
  • 22. The Sensory Systems 6. Olfactory System
    • Primitive system with receptors located in the nose and give us our sense of smell
    • Smells travel directly to the limbic system, the center of our emotions, memory, pleasure, and learning
    • Smell and taste are intimately connected
  • 23. The Sensory Systems 6. Olfactory System Problems
    • More input Needed Behaviors
    • (passive under responsive or active seekers)
    • Avoiding Behaviors
    • (over responsive)
  • 24. The Sensory Systems 7. Gustatory System
    • Receptors located in the mouth and tongue are plentiful
    • Tastes: sweet , salty , bitter, sour
  • 25. The Sensory Systems 7. Gustatory Problems
    • More input Needed Behaviors
    • (passive under responsive or active seekers)
    • Avoiding Behaviors
    • (over responsive)
  • 26. A little about Neurotransmitters/ Neurochemicals
    • Dopamine : Activation chemical: makes us want to move, helps us feel focused, enables us to concentrate
      • is the pleasure chemical, is the chemical of the emotional brain center
      • pressure touch with TLC enhances dopamine the fastest
  • 27. A little about Neurotransmitters/ Neurochemicals
    • Serotonin : this is the master modulator, makes us feel that all is okay and we are safe/ content
      • responsible for working memory and for ME in the picture
      • gets depleted under stress, can go into shutdown
      • proprioception/ joint input/ heavy work enhances Serotonin which can enhance Dopamine
  • 28. A little about Neurotransmitters/ Neurochemicals cont.
    • Norepinephrine: chemical for selective attention
      • novelty triggers Norepinephrine
      • contributes to the activation of fight/ flight/ fright response
      • use proprioception/ joint compression/ heavy work to enhance activation of Norepinephrine
  • 29. Arousal levels and sensory
    • Modulation: brain regulation and activity level via the balance between external and internal sensory stimuli
    • the way we modulate input affects our arousal state
    • our arousal levels change throughout the day, we try to keep an optimal arousal level using various strategies
  • 30. Arousal Levels and Sensory cont.
    • Types of arousal levels:
      • low
      • optimal/ just right
      • high: often respond to sensory stimuli with a strong response, frequently in fright/ flight/ fight response, may remove self to get away/ may scream in fright with too much input
    • those that spend more time in high and low arousal maybe constantly seeking or avoiding input to regulate
  • 31. Sensory Behaviors and Sensory Strategies
    • Behaviors we note with students often are proprioceptive: to get ME in the picture? To get the chemistry needed?
    • sensory strategies will help with the chemistry (neurochemicals)
    • Hand flapping (proprioception): provide hand fidgets, wall/ chair push - ups, weighted vest/ blanket
  • 32. Sensory Behaviors and Sensory Strategies cont.
    • Head banging/ ear flicking (vestibular /proprioception/deep tactile/ rhythm): provide strong movement/ proprioception as swinging, swimming, biking, use ball/ mini-tramp, chair/ wall pushups
    • Humming/ other vocalizations (proprioception/ vibration/ auditory): provide mini-massager to mouth/ face/ ear, blow toys, calming music
  • 33. Sensory Behaviors and Sensory Strategies cont.
    • Excessive mouthing/ chewing on non-food items (proprioception/ tactile): chewy, crunchy-chewy foods, strong flavors of food, battery toothbrush/ massager
    • Masturbation (proprioception/ tactile deep pressure): ball, seat inserts, jumping and crashing, weighted vest/ belt
    • Spinning self (vestibular/ visual): provide strong rotary movement on sit n spin, hold hands while person spins
    • Smelling (gustatory/ olfactory): provide strong flavors as cinnamon/ lemon/ peppermint
  • 34. Sensory Behaviors and Sensory Strategies cont.
    • Complains about performing hygiene, clothing and food textures (tactile defensiveness): provide deep touch input the whole body as wrapped in blanket/ sheet, heavy work input, analyze clothing and food textures, social stories
    • Rocking –standing (proprioception, vestibular, rhythm): appropriate rhythmical activities, seat inserts/ ball, movement breaks
    • Fecal smearing (vestibular, proprioception, tactile) very primitive reaction to identify who/ where they are: heavy work, movement, deep pressure activities
    • Lunging (vestibular, proprioception): joint compression, heavy work, movement activities
  • 35. Sensory Behaviors and Sensory Strategies cont.
    • Rocking in chair/ seat (vestibular/proprioception, rhythm): provide movement breaks, sit on cushion/ ball, play/ sing rhythmical music
    • Teeth grinding (proprioception, auditory, vibration): mini massagers, battery toothbrush, blow toys, chewies, crunchy and chewy foods
    • Physical strategies for those that are more active/ difficulty sitting: cushion/ ball, varied positions as on stomach/ standing (with marked off space), rocking chair, sit in small tent/ quiet area
  • 36. Sensory Behaviors and Sensory Strategies cont.
    • For those distracted by noises/ difficulty with auditory processing: ear plugs/ headphones, simplify directions, use gestures to reinforce verbal messages, visual assists
    • Decrease distractions for those who are sensitive/ easily distracted: minimize all objects around, store unnecessary items, turn lights on low, put work in hallway
    • Attention getters for those who have difficulty attending: plan language activities after gross motor time, preferential seating, use proximity and touch to help focus, soft voice with expression, open windows/ turn on fan
  • 37. Calming Activities
    • For those that are over active:
      • Visual: dim lights, unchanging visual stimuli, quiet corner/space, preferential seating looking away from doors/ windows
      • Auditory: use soft voice/ slower speech, familiar, rhythm sounds, 60 beats per minute, rain stick
  • 38. Calming Activities cont.
      • Tactile: items that are simple shapes, smooth, warm, familiar, soothing, wrap snugly within blanket, neutral warmth is relaxing, being squished in a mat, steamroller
  • 39. Calming Activities cont.
      • Proprioception: provide activities that have slow push-pull, slow stretch, wall/ chair/ hand push-ups
  • 40. Calming Activities cont.
      • Vestibular: slow, rhythmical/ predictable movement as swinging/ rocking/ swaying
      • Olfactory: relaxing scents as lavender and vanilla
      • Gustatory/ Tactile: sweet tastes and sucking are also relaxing
  • 41. Alerting Activities
    • To wake up the system or provide one with what they seek
    • Always provide some type of organizing activity afterward (proprioception usually) so does not become over aroused
    • Remember: Proprioception and heavy work are the good modulators of sensory input
      • Visual: bright lights, unexpected lights, bright colors, red-yellow shades
      • Auditory: music with erratic, fast beat, unexpected noises
  • 42. Alerting Activities cont.
      • Tactile: light touch, unexpected touch, rough textures, intricate shapes, cold temperatures
      • Proprioception: sudden stopping, jerky/ quick/ fast / unexpected/ variable change
      • Vestibular: head inverted, rapid/ jerky/ angular changing directions movement: twirl, roll…
      • Olfactory: arousing scents as peppermint
      • Gustatory: use spicy / sour flavors and spices, crunchy / chewy foods
  • 43. Organizing Activities
    • For a “just-right” arousal level
      • Visual: natural lighting
      • Auditory: music with heavy drum rhythm
      • Proprioception/ Tactile/ Gustatory: provide chewy foods (licorice, raisins, carrots, roll-ups, gum)
      • Vestibular: Trampoline, jumping jacks
      • Respiration: blow whistles, blow art, kazoos
  • 44. Classroom heavy work activities:
        • Carrying heavy objects
        • Pulling self using rope when on scooterboard
        • Pulling heavy crate, bolster
        • Pushing weighted ball, teacher in wheeled chair
        • Erasing boards
        • Using play dough/ clay
        • Constructive toys
        • Squeezy fidget toys
        • Hammer toys
  • 45. Classroom heavy work activities:
    • Working on vertical surfaces
    • Adding weights to chairs, boxes, etc.
    • Rolling, crawling up inclines
    • Caterpillar tunnel made of lycra
    • Body sox made of lycra
    • Stretching
    • Tug of war, rough housing and wrestling with structure
    • Lying on blanket, being swung, then crash into pillows
    • Movements as wheelbarrow walk, row, row your boat, animal walks, crawling
  • 46. Summary
    • Development of foundational skills needed for learning is partially dependent upon the nervous system’s ability to process and integrate sensory information accurately
    • Sensory processing is related to arousal
    • Sensory behaviors need to be looked at first in terms of regulation and modulation
    • We all have our own sensory preferences and not
    • Proprioception and heavy work are the big sensory modulators with activities that can be done throughout the day
    • Decrease stress
  • 47. Equipment: