Do you know we have more than five senses? I did not until I learned that my son was experiencing difficulties integrating the different levels of sensory stimulation which happen through sight, sound, smell, taste and texture. In my journey of learning and searching for answers about sensory integration, I learned that we have two extra senses in our body. It’s important to know how these senses function in our body in order to identify the types of Sensory Integration Dysfunction.
According to Carol Stock Kranowitz, author of the book “The Out –of-Sync Child,” we have “internal” senses that tell us what is happening in our bodies. The Proprioception or body position sense tells our brain where our body is in relation to other objects and how to move. This sense is also in charge of regulating the internal sensory system such us heart rate, hunger, thirst, digestion, body temperature, SLEEP, mood and state of arousal. When this sense is not receiving information correctly through the receptors located in the muscles, joints, ligaments, tendons and connective tissues, children are unable to regulate their level of energy and the movement of their bodies. They might be hypersensitive or hyposensitive.
The other sense is balance and movement that comes from our Vestibular System and tells our brain where our body is in space related to movement, coordination and equilibrium. Children who are not well connected with the receptors of this sense, located in the inner ear, might be oversensitive or under-sensitive to various types of stimuli. Children with sensory issues may have a combination of dysfunctional inner senses, along with issues relating to the traditional five senses. By having this information, I realized that my child was suffering from this combination of hyper- and hyposensitivity, and it was a challenge getting him to sleep, feeding him and keeping his energy level in balance.
In my next post I will describe some details that help to identify proprioceptive and vestibular dysfunction in children and how I helped my son.