Assistive tools for sensory integration

We all know someone who seems to be too active, or absent, emotionally unstable or who cannot keep their hands in one place. This can be a child, an adult, a baby or an elderly person, it can happen to anyone. Sometimes we find this behavior annoying, sometimes funny, and sometimes we are puzzled by it. Where did this behavior come from? Is that person doing that on purpose? To answer these questions we have to say that in most cases it is not done intentionally. This behavior may be connected with stimulus processing or sensory integration.

Stimulus processing problems.

Stimulus processing is a process typical for every person’s body. Stimulus processing, also called sensory information processing, enables the body to react to anything that happens in the environment. It is done by the senses recording a stimulus and then guiding it to the brain, where the stimuli are processed. The brain then sends a signal to the muscles and joints to allow a reaction to take place. The extent to which people process stimuli is very individual. Some are more sensitive to stimuli than the others, and some can be insensitive to stimuli whatsoever and may seek for stimuli as a result. Both cases may be experienced as obstructive. Both for the person and their environment. Fortunately, there are several tools that can help with stimulus processing problems.

 

Stimuli sensitivity or insensitivity

When you're sensitive to stimuli, stimuli can come in really hard.

For example, you may find sounds in your environment or bright light annoying and you may not like being touched.

Also, you may not be able to sleep well because you wake up from every sound at night.

Too many stimuli often lead to unrest and stress. Tools that can help are, for example, a weighted vest, a weighted blanket, an weighted pillow and the prevention of these irritating stimuli. For example, by hanging curtains in front of the windows, lowering the brightness of a screen or removing labels from the clothing. Heavier material helps to calm the body. Because of deep pressure being applied to the body, the brain receives a signal that the environment is safe. The stimulation process can regulate the nervous system and make it rest. Partly because of the tranquility which is the effect of the continuous deep pressure on the body and as a result other stimuli from the environment will be perceived as less rough

Stimuli reduced registration or Stimuli seeking behavior

When you do not register or process stimuli so well, you often naturally look for Stimuli to reach the stimulus threshold. For example, you do this by touching everything and not being able to sit still.

For others, this may look like annoying behavior, when in fact you do your best to stay alert.

When stimuli do not come in properly and you do not need to actively seek more stimuli, you may seem absent from the outside world. Also, you may not be able to follow conversations very well or succeed at school. This, too, can be annoying for you or other people.

Tools that can help with this is providing the right doses of extra stimuli. For someone who is looking for stimuli, extra chores or exercises could help. A person who does not actively seek stimuli can benefit from strengthening the stimuli by, for example, explaining an assignment more clearly. Another way of strengthening the stimuli is to administer deep pressure. A weighted blanket can help to put the body to sleep better when the body is still experiencing a lot of turmoil. A weighted vest or a weighted pillow can help to concentrate better and stay still. By constantly providing stimuli through a deep pressure, the body feels no need to actively seek out stimuli itself. The threshold is also reached and the person is able to concentrate properly.

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