Sensory processing difficulties affect a child's ability to process, interpret and respond to sensory stimulation. Sensory processing abilities utilize the brain and central nervous system. The senses include:
- Smell and taste sensations: enable the child to be more aware of his or her environment, as well as to enjoy healthy mealtimes.
- Touch: includes light touch, deep touch, soft and hard surface exchanges, etc.
- Proprioception: the ability to understand where one's body is in space and its relation to other objects in the environment.
Children and adults are continually using all of their senses simultaneously throughout the day while engaging in daily life. Children who are institutionalized and even those in foster care may not have had the opportunity to participate in play activities that engage their senses to help them learn about the world around them. These children may present with daily challenges, including but not limited to:
- Difficulty accepting touch (hugs, massage, hair washing, diaper changes, clothing changes)
- Difficulty with environmental noises or smells (difficulty tuning out noises or smelling non-food objects)
- Difficulty advancing textures of foods in their mouths
- Difficulty with movement (bouncing, swinging, car rides)
- Difficulty with motor coordination tasks