Strategies According to Sense
Sight is processed through the ‘Visual’ sense. Visual sensory stimuli is ‘picked up’ through visual receptors located in the eye and are stimulated by light, colour and movement.
This is different from problems involving sight or sharpness of vision. In this section, we will concentrate on students who have difficulty regulating visual input. Difficulties regulating visual input can result in sensitivity to light and moving images or a student may seek out increased amounts of visual input.
Sound is processed through the ‘Auditory’ sense. Auditory receptors located in the inner ear, identify loud, soft, high, low near and far noises in the environment.
Touch is processed through the ‘Tactile’ sense. Tactile receptors that ‘pick up’ the sensation of touch are all over our bodies in our skin. Some areas of our skin have more tactile senses than other areas e.g. mouth and hands. The tactile senses are important for identifying touch, pressure, pain, temperature and texture.
Taste is processed through our ‘Gustatory’ senses. Gustatory sensors are located on our tongues and are linked to our olfactory senses (smell). Sweet, sour, bitter, salty and spicy flavours are processed through our gustatory senses.
Smell is processed through ‘Olfactory’ sensors located in the nose. The olfactory senses can distinguish between a range of smells including pungent, flowery, putrid and musty.
The vestibular system is our movement system. The receptors are located in the inner ear and detect the speed and direction of movement and the pull of gravity.
Proprioceptive (body awareness)
The proprioceptive system is located in our muscles and joints. It provides us with a sense of body awareness and detects/controls force and pressure. The proprioceptive system also has an important regulatory role in sensory processing as proprioceptive input can assist in controlling responses to sensory stimuli.
Proprioceptive input can be very calming for those who are easily overwhelmed by sensory stimulation.
Proprioceptive input can be alerting for those who need increased sensory stimulation to facilitate attention and learning.
Many students with autism seek proprioceptive input in order to regulate their emotional and behavioural responses to sensory stimulation.