My name is Elise, and I hate peas. I don’t like the texture of peas. The thought of skin around the mushy inside is repulsive to me. Thus, I have avoided peas since vomiting over pea soup in Kindergarten. The fear is real… to me.
For those of you who love peas, you don’t understand, and you often try to convince me that I won’t taste them or feel them in my mouth.
You are wrong.
I can detect one pea in a potluck-sized bowl of macaroni salad and in a mouth full of soup. And as a result, I go into a flight, fright, or fight response.
When it comes to peas (and several other things), I am a SENSORY AVOIDER. A sensory avoider is one who doesn’t need a lot of sensory input to react and often manages the environment or the situation to avoid that sensory input. Some ways in which you might see this in your kids includes if they:
Because I’m an adult in charge of my own eating habits, I can avoid peas, and it really doesn’t negatively impact my world anymore. However, that wasn’t always the case, and it’s not always the case for our sensory avoiding kids. Often times, sensory avoiding children are placed into situations that don’t match their sensory preferences. Sometimes that is unavoidable, because there are times when you have to just eat the peas, but other times there are ways to deal with their sensory preferences to avoid an outbreak. For me, that means choosing to make corn for my family and not taking that pea salad at the church potluck.
So now that I’ve told you about one sensory preference, let me share a little about three others. According to the Sensory Profile (Dunn, 1999), there are four sensory preferences:
SENSITIVITY TO STIMULI: Like sensation avoiders, those scoring in the sensitivity to stimuli category also don’t need much sensory input to generate a response (low neurological threshold). However, in contrast to the avoiders, they are passive in meeting the threshold. This means they aren’t having outbursts or withdrawing, but rather they are drawn to the newest stimulus that presents itself and often appear distracted or hyperactive. They may be cautious to proceed because of fear that they missed something while distracted by new stimuli, or they might become upset either by their own difficulties with tracking tasks or with others who are interrupting them. You might notice this in your children if they:
SENSORY SEEKERS: Sensory seekers have a high need for sensory input and make sure that their high threshold is met by actively seeking it out. Behaviors indicative of sensory seeking include being active, continuously engaging, fidgety, and excitable. They may seem to lack consideration for safety when playing. You might notice this in your child through these actions:
LOW REGISTRATION: Like sensory seekers, those with low registration have a high need for sensory input in order to respond. However, they are passive in the process and don’t seek out input. They may appear tired or disinterested, very likely because their sensory experiences aren’t intense enough for them to notice and respond. Typically, these aren’t the kids causing any problems and Low Registration can often go undetected until preschool or early elementary years when difficulties learning or following directions may appear.
Often times, I meet parents who may think our therapy goal is to either change their child’s sensory preferences or their own. However, that isn’t the case at all. Our goal is to understand each other’s preferences and discover how we can all live somewhat harmoniously under one roof.
Through understanding we can offer the right amount and type of sensory input, providing a healthy, safe environment in which the child has a better opportunity to behave and play appropriately, perform academically, and complete daily living skills.
There is much hope in understanding.
Elise Spronk will be hosting a free developmental screen day on:
How do you reserve a spot?
Email us or call our office to register using our toll-free number, 866-588-0230. Don’t hesitate to sign up. Time slots are limited and will fill up quickly.
So if you would like to attend, schedule now! Call 866-588-0230 or email us.