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The Five Senses and Beyond!

Humans are all sensory beings! It is just how we respond to the sensory input that makes us different. You may notice that some people have a difficult time processing sensory information from their environment, whereas other children may not be as sensitive to different sensations. The ability to process sensations within our environment is important, as it allows us to participate in activities that we want to do, need to do, or are expected to do.

There are 8 different senses…WHAT!?

The Five Senses:

Olfactory (smell)

  • The olfactory sense is our sense of smell. Our sense of smell allows us to explore and learn about the environment.

Tactile (touch)

  • The tactile sense is our sense of touch. You may notice that your child has preferences with different textures and/or clothing.

Auditory (sound)

  • The auditory system includes the sounds that your child may encounter throughout the day.

Oral (taste)

  • The oral system includes our sense of taste. This is input that your child receives from his/her mouth. This could include food and non-food objects.

Visual (sight)

  • The visual system is input that your child receives through his/her eyes. Having too much or too little visual input can make it hard for your child to participate in things they want/need to do.

The Three “Hidden Senses”

Proprioception (body awareness)

  • The proprioceptive system is information that we receive from our muscles and our joints.

  • This allows your child to understand where their body is in space.

Interoception (body signals)

  • The interoceptive system allows us to understand what is occurring within our own bodies.

  • This includes body signals such as: hunger, thirst, and when we need to use the restroom.

Vestibular (movement)

  • The vestibular system is our sense of movement and position of our head in space. This includes components of the inner ear.

Does your child avoid or seek some of the above sensory inputs? Is it affecting your child’s ability to participate in day to day life? If so, you can work with an occupational therapist (OT) to develop strategies to optimize your child’s performance in activities.

If you want more information about the 8 senses, how OT can help and strategies to use at home, please stop by the front desk at Synergy Family Therapy Specialists for handouts!

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