The big and small world of Sensory Integration

1.Vestibular sense and Autism

Sensory Integration is an innate neurobiological process.

It is mainly integration and interpretation of sensory stimuli from the environment by the brain

What is vestibular sense ?

Artwork by Dhrov Tikoo , A swing is great for our vestibular sense

In sensory integration process , there is an important sense called the vestibular sense

There are structures in the inner ear called semi- circular canals  that can detect the movement and changes in position of the head . Well when you feel giddy , it is vestibular sense that is acting up

Infact it is this sense that tells you when your head is tilted or upright

So when there is dysfunction in this sensory system the child can get either hypersensitive. This can be seen that child has fearful reactions towards swings , ramps , slides and difficulty to climb or ascend the stairs . This child might seem clumsy or fearful in space when exposed to a vestibular stimulation

On the other hand , the child would be seeking the vestibular sense a lot. This is visible as excessive jumping , or spinning

This means the child is hyposensitive to vestibular stimulations and therefore seeking them to regulate themselves

Evaluation of the sensory system can be performed by trained and certified occupational and /or physical therapists

Now when you opt for sensory integration therapy , what is the therapist actually doing for your child with vestibular dysfunction

Goal 1 :provide the child with sensory information so that they can organise the central nervous system

Goal 2: to assist the child in inhibiting and /or modulating the sensory information

Goal 3: to encourage the child to have a more organised response when presented with sensory stimuli /information

It is important to opt for sensory integration therapy so that child can experience good sensory system function, develop play skills , self regulate and have less challenging behaviours

This blog ‘s main focus is to aware parents about vestibular sensory system. It is about what happens when you see , hear and opt for sensory integration sessions for vestibular sense 

2. Propioceptive Sense

Have you heard of propioceptive sense ?

Artwork by Morpheus Nag , excerise and running are an excellent proprioreceptive activity

Well if you  answer yes then I feel you must be a sensory seeker yourself ?

If you answer no for this question , then your child must be a sensory seeker and you would have heard about it from an OT or PT ?

The proprioceptive system is located in our muscles and joints. It provides us with a sense of body awareness and detects and controls  the force and pressure applied by our body to our surroundings

Well simply it is this sense that creates awareness that you are dancing , laughing hard c, doing aerobics or yoga.This sense tells you if that hug is comfortable or just hurting

In a child with additional needs related to autism , or adhd or developmental delays , a propioceptive stimuli can be calming when the child is overly stimulated by the environments

Or it can be alerting stimulus when the child is requiring increased sensory stimulation for facilitating learning and attention

Beyond this many children on the spectrum seek propioceptive stimulus or inputs to regulate their emotional and behavioral response too

Important indicators that your child is seeking a propioceptive stimulus

1.Bites or chews the sides of sleeves , neckline of pullovers

2.walking tip toes

3.engages a lot on weight bearing activities that compress joints like swinging , hanging , climbing

4.prefers to stomp feet while walking

5. prefers jumping

6.enjoys rough and tumble play with peers

7.throws self heavily on others or on floor , carpets, crash pads and bean bags

8. holds writing tools too firmly and writes with lot of pressure on paper

9. bangs body parts

10 . hyper extends the joints like locking knees , bending back fingers

Now what could be certain propioceptive activities /games that help to modulate the propioceptive needs of a child /individual

  • Weight-bearing activities – animal walks , push ups , wheel barrow
  • Resistance activities – like pushing and pulling (tug of war )
  • Heavy lifting activities – carrying big and heavy books , heavy laundry bags , grocery cartons
  • Cardiovascular activities – running , jumping , cycling , jumping or hoping on trampoline
  • Oral motor games – blowing bubbles , chewing gums , candies
  • Deep pressure – tight hugs , become a burrito with heavy blanket

Important point is to keep in mind the purpose of using a propioceptive game

If using it to calm a child . introduce it before a triggering or stressful activity

If using to alert a child who is unresponsive , identify the instances of disengagement and introduce the propioceptive game

This one is for teachers and works best in classrooms

Activities you would love to be part of with your students in the classroom. These can be used as brain breaks too

  • Wall pushes
  • Lifting dumbbells
  • Jumping or jogging on spot
  • Star jumps
  • Jumping jacks
  • Catching and throwing weighted ball
  • And 
  • Bouncing on gym ball
Artwork by Morpheus Nag, a simple pushing activity

Well I feel whether you are teacher , parent or professional reading this blog , you would definately try doing one of the activity today . So all the best and do share your story with me

3. The tactile sense

Artwork by Dhrov Tikoo

Tactile system is includes the nerves under the skin sending information to brain.The information includes pain , temperature , pressure and deep and light touch .

When tactile system will be dysregulated it will look like

Withdrawing from being touched

Refuse eating some textured food stuff and items

Avoid getting hands dirty or likes getting hands dirty

Refusing to wear certain types of clothing like winter wear

Avoids getting face washed or moisturised

Does not like hair wash

Uses finger tips instead of whole hands to hold or manipulate objects

Tactile dysregulation can be two situations either the person is low registering  towards  tactile stimuli or overly sensitive towards it

Because of this imbalance a child can have extensive emotional response towards certain tactile stimulations and this should not be ignored by the parent

Hence you should ask a professional (OT , PT ) to devise either a desensitization program or sensory diet to cope with this dysfunction

Hope this blog was too good to learn and definitely an eye- opener


Creative Efforts  Swing Lover  Bouncing Ball lover and a messy eater  – Heena Sahi

Creative representation for my blog on various senses is done accurately by Dhrov Tikoo for vestibular and tactile senses. And Morpheus Nag for Proprioceptive sense.


Home based Gross motor activities: Play and learn by Pinki Kumar

A video blog by Pinki Kumar on home based Gross motor activities.

Author Pinki Kumar

Pinki is a special educator, play therapist and a mother of a neurodivergent kid. She has a YouTube channel Play and learn to teach different methods and strategies. These videos are a great resource for the parents to help their child learn various skills.