TACTILE – Refers to the touch sense. It helps give information about something’s size, texture and shape allowing for accurate manipulation of objects.
Ø Some children exhibit hypersensitive reactions to tactile experiences appearing to become distressed when finger painting or gluing. Those children may also voice upset over the tags in their clothing or over getting “dirty” clothing/hands when eating.
Ø In contrast, some children have hyposensitive reactions to tactile experiences appearing to crave messy explorations with textures. They may also get food or dirt all over their skin.
Activities such as playing with clay, playdoh, finger paint, sand (wet or dry), glue, water using sponges, and/or exploring various textures (beans, rice, flour, dough, etc.) will help to improve the tactile sense.
VESTIBULAR – Refers to how one responds to gravity and changes in head position. It helps contribute to one’s balance and sense of spatial orientation. It is the sense that allows us to coordinate movements of the eyes, head, and body.
Ø Some children exhibit excessive need to move about whether it be in a line or while in a chair. They may use extraneous movements (skipping, twirling, etc.) in order to get from one point to another. Some children may rock back and forth while sitting or lean backwards in their chair.
Ø In contrast, some children may avoid or dislike vestibular activities such as roughhousing or playing on playground equipment. They may exhibit gravitional insecurities when their feet leave the ground fearing that they are going to fall backwards/over.
Activities such as swinging, skating, climbing, gymnastics, jump roping, bicycling, and playing hopscotch will help to improve the ability to process the feeling of movement and gravity on the body.
PROPRIOCEPTION – Refers to how one responds to information from muscles and joints. It is often called the “position sense” (Carol Kranowitz). It tells the brain two things: where various body parts are in relation to one another and how much force is needed to complete a task.
Ø Some children may appear to have a decreased “position sense” and may often appear clumsy bumping into many things. They may even run full force into furniture or the wall in order to gain more proprioceptive input. They may take excessive risks with climbing and jumping off onto other objects. This may be referred to “body crashing”.
Ø Children may also have difficulty planning and grading motor movements. They may appear to be very rough with objects and toys often breaking them.
Activities like climbing, jumping, playing tug of war or twister, and pulling, pushing, or carrying heavy items help to improve the ability to know where our body parts are in relation to each other and to objects. This is important for dexterity and coordination in fine and gross motor skills.
AUDITORY – Refers to the hearing sense. It gives information about how the brain processes sound and vibration.
Ø Some children demonstrate a heightened sense of sound and are therefore easily distracted by noises in their environment making it difficult to prioritize the sounds they are hearing. For example, some children may not be able to follow what the teacher is saying, because their auditory system is overwhelmed by the sounds of a pencil sharpener, chairs moving, and/or kids whispering in another area of the room.
Ø Other children may respond negatively to sounds in their environment even protecting their ears from lawn mowers, fire alarms, trucks, vacuum cleaners, hair dryers, and/or dogs barking.
Ø Some children may also have a different rate at which they process what is being said. They may have difficulty following multistep directions, because they are busy trying to understand or process the first direction.
Activities like playing rhyming games, association games, or memory games (“going on a picnic” where the child needs to remember multiple items). Reading books for comprehension and playing games that require multiple verbal directions (with initial physical demonstrations) are also very helpful. Lastly, encouraging playing with musical instruments, making noise with objects/toys, and/or playing various kinds of music (opera, classical, instrumental) at different volumes depending upon the child’s tolerance.
VISUAL – Refers to sense of sight in which the brain interprets and processes visual information. This is different from problems involving sight or visual sharpness.
Ø Some children may have difficulty processing visual information and therefore may have impaired visual perception. They may have difficulty matching/sorting, sequencing, reading, writing, or completing math tasks.
Ø There are seven areas of visual perception:
1. Discrimination – matching the exact characteristics of a form.
2. Memory – recalling a form after 4-5 seconds.
3. Spatial relationship – determining the position of objects in space in relation to other objects, as well as, determining which form is different from a series of forms.
4. Form Constancy – locating a different sized or positioned form.
5. Sequential Memory – recalling a series of forms.
6. Figure Ground – locating a form that is hidden.
7. Closure – matching a form when the lines are incomplete.
Ø Some children have difficulty prioritizing visual information and therefore become easily distracted by objects or the movement others in their classroom.
Ø Some children closely look at objects, even crossing their eyes when looking. They may be fascinated by fans, wheels of toy cars, and/or brightly colored or shiny objects or television shows. They may consistently want to play or watch these objects/shows.
Activities like completing sorting or matching games, memory games, sequencing cards for beading and/or block designs, I Spy games, complete the picture or maze games, and flashlight tag games are very helpful to improve visual processing.
GUSTATORY – Refers to the taste sense and how the brain processes taste, temperature and textures in the mouth. This sense is closely related to the Olfactory sense.
Ø Some children exhibit a hypersensitive gustatory reaction voicing displeasure or avoiding specific textures or tastes, thus, limiting their nutritional diet to only crunchy and salty foods. They may also frequently gag or spit out foods or avoid tooth brushing.
Ø In contrast, other children with a hyposensitive reaction to the gustatory sense may overstuff their mouth when eating because they eat too quickly. They may also chew, lick, or mouth non-food objects (toys, clothes, erasers, etc.)
Activities like massaging the face, lips, gums, tongue and sides of the mouth with a small finger brush or rubbing around the face/mouth with cloths of different textures of fabrics (like satin, velvet, etc.). Provide foods with different textured (pretzels, crackers, jell-o, puddings, gummy bears, ice cream, mashed potatoes, etc.) or with different temperatures (ice pops to bite/suck, warm oatmeal).
OLFACTORY – Refers to the sense of smell. It can increase the awareness and identification of one’s surroundings.
Ø Some smells (cooking, etc.) can evoke a reaction such as nausea, vomiting, distress, and/or distraction in some children.
Ø In contrast, some children constantly smell objects before eating or playing.
Activities such as smelling scratch and sniff stickers, cooking extract bottles (vanilla, peppermint, anise etc.), scented lotions (lavender, rose), cut citrus fruits and vegetables (orange, lemon, green pepper, etc.) can help to awaken this sense.