As human beings, we rely on our senses to perceive the world around us. We use our senses to gather important information, process it, and respond accordingly. This is how we communicate, learn, and interact with others. But did you know that each person can have a unique way of experiencing and processing sensory information? Understanding our different sensory systems can help us better understand ourselves and those around us. In this blog post, we will explore the five main sensory systems that most are familiar with and how they impact our daily lives.
The first sensory system is the tactile system, which is responsible for processing touch sensations. This includes sensations like pressure, temperature, and texture. Children who have tactile sensitivities may dislike certain fabrics, tags on clothing, or may become easily distressed when touched by others. On the other hand, children with hyposensitivity may seek out touch sensations and engage in activities such as roughhousing or hugging. To support children with tactile sensitivities, parents, carers, and educators can provide different textures to explore like sand, water, or playdough, and avoid overwhelming them with too much stimulation.
The second sensory system is the visual system, which allows us to process information through what we see. Children who have visual sensitivities may be bothered by bright lights or colors, while children with hyposensitivity may be drawn to bright, flashy objects. To support children with visual sensitivities, parents, carers, and educators can provide shaded areas to reduce glare or use natural lighting rather than fluorescent lighting. It can also be helpful to provide plenty of visual cues when giving instructions or information so that children can gain a better understanding.
The third sensory system is the auditory system, which allows us to process and make sense of sound. Children with auditory sensitivities may become overwhelmed by loud or sudden noises, while children with hyposensitivity may require louder noises to register with them. To support children with auditory sensitivities, parents, carers, and educators can provide quiet spaces for children to retreat to when they become overwhelmed. They can also provide earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones to help muffle sounds.
The fourth sensory system is the olfactory system, which allows us to process and make sense of smell. Children with olfactory sensitivities may be sensitive to strong smells, while children with hyposensitivity may have a difficult time detecting smells. To support children with olfactory sensitivities, parents, carers, and educators can use scents that are calming and soothing, like lavender, or neutralize unpleasant smells with air fresheners or essential oils.
The fifth and final sensory system is the gustatory system, which allows us to process and make sense of taste. Children with gustatory sensitivities may be very selective about what they eat, while children with hyposensitivity may seek out certain tastes. To support children with gustatory sensitivities, parents, carers, and educators can try offering a variety of foods with different textures and flavors. It is also important to respect a child's food preferences while encouraging them to try new things.
In conclusion, each of us has a unique way of experiencing and processing sensory information. By understanding our different sensory systems, we can better support children who may be struggling with sensory sensitivities or hyposensitivities. This can involve providing different environmental cues or sensory experiences to help children feel more comfortable and engaged in their surroundings. By taking the time to understand sensory systems, we can help children better navigate their worlds and reach their full potential.
Coming up - Understanding Our Different Sensory Systems (Part 2) : Our 3 "hidden" Sensory Systems that affect everything we do