Literacy PK-3

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Literacy PK-3 > Factors > Sensory Integration

Sensory Integration

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How Sensory Integration connects to...

We are constantly taking in information—particularly sights, smells, and sounds-- and our Sensory Integration skills help us make sense of it all. Sensory Integration involves receiving, processing, and organizing multiple sources of sensory information and transforming this information into appropriate responses. When students struggle with Sensory Integration, sensory input can interfere with their ability to focus on reading, writing, and learning.

Main Ideas

Students with Sensory Integration difficulties can struggle with peer relationships, participating in classroom activities, and getting adequate sleep. This can lead to difficulties with learning, including learning to read and write.

The threshold for processing sensory information and the response can vary:

  • Neurological Threshold: A high threshold is when the nervous system is only stimulated with high levels of sensory input. A low threshold is when the nervous system is easily stimulated with low levels of sensory input.
  • Behavioral Response: Active response is when the student responds immediately to the sensory environment (e.g., they leave a room if it is too loud). Passive response is when the student does not respond immediately to the sensory environment, even though they may immediately perceive the environment as uncomfortable (e.g., they passively remain in a room that is too loud).

Some basic patterns of Sensory Integration include:

  • Sensation Seeking: High threshold/active;
  • Low Registration: High threshold/passive;
  • Sensation Avoiding: Low threshold/active; and
  • Sensory Sensitivity: Low threshold/passive.

Students who are sensation seeking/hyposensitive may seek out higher levels of sensory input (e.g., requiring noise to be louder, needing more light). Students who are sensation avoiding/hypersensitive may experience sensory overload, causing them to be irritable, withdraw from activities, or avoid touch. Some students may show a mixture of sensory seeking and avoidance.

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