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Who is the team behind GriffinOT?
GriffinOT is run by registered occupational therapist Kim Griffin. Kim has a passion for teaching parents and teachers how they can help their children. You can read more about Kim here. At GriffinOT we aim to provide high quality affordable training options, you can read more about our pricing structure here. If you want to learn more about GriffinOT, you can visit our About Us page. You can also follow us on social media to stay up to date, the buttons are in the top left of the page.
Common Questions on Sensory Processing
Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is a condition in which the brain has trouble receiving and responding to information that comes in through the senses. Some people with Sensory Processing Disorder are oversensitive to things in their environment. Common sounds may be painful or overwhelming. Additionally, it may result in poor motor skill coordination. You can read more about SPD here.
Sensory integration (SI) is a theory, assessment tool and treatment approach. It was first defined by occupational therapist Dr A. Jeans Ayres in 1972 as ‘the organisation of the senses for use.’ Dr Ayres noticed that many children with learning disabilities interpreted sensory messages differently to their peers. She began to focus her research on the touch, vestibular, proprioceptive and vision senses and exploring the impact these had on learning. You can read more about sensory integration here.
Preliminary research from the STAR institute and colleagues suggests that Sensory Processing Disorder is often inherited. This means, the causes of SPD are coded into the child’s genetic material at birth. In addition, prenatal and birth complications or risk factors, such as being premature, may also cause SPD. Environmental factors may be involved. For example, children who are adopted often experience SPD, due perhaps to restrictions in their early lives or poor prenatal care.
Sensory modulation is the brain’s ability to respond proportionately to sensory information. People modulate sensory messages differently. Some have a bigger reaction and are more sensitive to sensory messages. Others have a smaller reaction, and are slower to respond. Some seek out more sensory information.
Proprioception is essential to know where your body parts are in space. When you’re walking for example, typically you don’t need to look at your feet. You ‘know’ where they are because you’re receiving information from your proprioceptors. The proprioceptors are in the muscles and joints of each limb. These receive information about muscle stretch, joint loading and joint compression.
This lets the brain know how open are our joints are, how closed are joints and the amount of load and compression there is on our joints. It help us to know how much force we are using, and if we are carrying or pushing anything. You can read more about proprioception here.
The vestibular sense is often called our movement or balance sense. It receives sensory messages from an organ in our middle ear called the vestibule. Inside this there are two organs, the semi-circular canals, and the otoliths. These respond to different types of head movement. They let us know which direction we are moving in and how fast we are moving. The main job of the vestibular system is to help with balance and postural control. You can read more about the vestibular sense here.
Interoception refers to the sensory input that we receive from our body internally. It’s the information that we are receive from inside our body and our organs. It’s critical as it receives information about hunger, needing the toilet, tiredness, sickness and internal pain such as a stomach ache or headache. It includes any sensory input or feedback that we are receiving internally from our body.
Sensory seeking or sensory seeker is a term that is used to describe a child or adult that is looking for more sensory input from one or more of their senses. They like smells, they might go closer to them to increase the intensity. The like bigger flavours and might add more spice to foods. They might make things in their environment brighter and louder. They are likely the ones that ‘touch everything’ and are always pushing and pulling during play. In school they are typically the ones rocking in their chair.
Sensory sensitivity is a term used when a child or adult experiences sensitivity with one or more of their senses. When sensitivity is experienced, the response the child or adult displays is bigger than others would expect. Sensitivity can occur across all sensory systems, or may only occur with one. You can read more about sensory responses here.
‘Sensory overload’ describes the experience a child or adult has when sensory information in their environment overwhelms them. People with autism commonly experience it. Put simply, when there is too much sensory information, their brain can no longer process it efficiently. Sensory overload might result in an outburst, or withdrawal from a situation.
Sensory shut down is a term to describe the experience a child or adult might have when they are so overwhelmed by sensory information that they stop responding. The term shut down is used as it can often look like the person’s brain has essentially turned off. Typically a person experiencing shut down needs time to re-regulate and calm down before they can engage and respond again. Heavy work can sometimes help with calming down our senses.
Dyspraxia is a term used to describe the sensory processing difficulty children and adults have when they struggle to plan and organise their movements. Dyspraxia was first described by Jean Ayres when she was outlining her theory of Sensory Integration. It is also often referred to as Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD). You can read more about dyspraxia here.
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