Sensory processing refers to the way our nervous system receives, interprets, and responds to sensory input from our environment. It involves organizing and integrating information from our five senses (sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell) to understand our surroundings and react appropriately. When a person has difficulty with sensory processing, it can impact their daily life and development, as seen in conditions like Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD).

Key Takeaways

  1. Sensory processing refers to the way our nervous system receives, interprets, and responds to sensory information from our environment and body.
  2. Children with sensory processing issues may experience hypersensitivity or hyposensitivity to sensory inputs, resulting in challenges in daily activities and social interactions.
  3. Supporting children with sensory processing difficulties involves understanding their unique sensitivities and creating strategies to help them cope, including occupational therapy, sensory integration activities, and environmental adaptations.


Sensory Processing is an essential term in parenting as it refers to the way the nervous system receives, interprets, and responds to sensory input from the environment.

This process plays a pivotal role in a child’s overall development, including motor skills, cognition, social interactions, and emotional regulation.

By understanding sensory processing, parents can better recognize the specific sensory needs of children and facilitate appropriate activities that cater to their individual preferences and tolerances.

This awareness enables parents to create a supportive environment that enhances the child’s coping mechanisms, self-expression, and overall well-being.

Additionally, it helps parents identify potential sensory processing issues, such as Sensory Processing Disorder, which may require professional intervention and support.


Sensory processing is an essential aspect of child development that revolves around the way an individual receives, organizes, and interprets sensory input from the environment. The purpose of sensory processing is to enable children to make sense of the world they inhabit, make informed decisions about their actions, and adapt to various situations.

Understanding sensory processing is vital for parents and caregivers, as it can impact a child’s learning, communication, motor skills, social functioning, and overall well-being. The better a parent comprehends their child’s unique sensory preferences and challenges, the more effectively they can support their child as they navigate the various input received from the senses.

Acknowledging the importance of sensory processing becomes particularly crucial when dealing with children diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). These children often experience difficulties in processing and responding to sensory stimuli, leading to atypical behavior that can hinder their daily functioning and interactions with others. By fostering an environment that respects and accommodates a child’s sensory needs, parents not only encourage healthy emotional responses but also improve their child’s overall functioning.

In this context, sensory processing serves a dual purpose: first, it helps parents identify potential areas of difficulty for their child, and second, it provides the foundation for creating targeted strategies that can enhance a child’s ability to navigate through various sensory challenges.

Examples of Sensory Processing

Sensory Processing refers to how the brain receives, processes, and responds to sensory information from the environment. It plays a significant role in parenting, as children with sensory processing difficulties may require extra support and understanding from their parents. Here are three real-world examples of sensory processing in the context of parenting:

Overstimulation in crowded places: A child who is overwhelmed by loud noises and bright lights may struggle in crowded environments, such as amusement parks or busy shopping malls. Parents may need to help their child cope by providing noise-canceling headphones, sunglasses, or offering breaks in quiet spaces to regroup.

Picky eating due to sensory issues: Some children might experience sensory processing difficulties related to taste, texture, or smell of food, which may result in them being labeled as “picky eaters.” Parents can accommodate their child’s sensory needs by offering a variety of foods in terms of texture and taste and encouraging kids to explore new options gradually.

Sensitivity to clothing textures: A child might have a heightened sensitivity to certain textures, like being bothered by seams on socks or tags in clothing, and this can cause irritation and discomfort. Parents can help by choosing seam-free and tag-free clothing, or by removing tags and selecting soft, comfortable fabrics for their child to wear.In these situations, understanding sensory-processing challenges and adopting appropriate coping strategies can significantly improve a child’s comfort and overall well-being.

Sensory Processing FAQ

1. What is sensory processing?

Sensory processing refers to the way the nervous system receives and processes messages from the senses and turns them into appropriate motor and behavioral responses. It helps us understand and respond to the world around us through our senses like touch, taste, smell, hearing, and vision.

2. What are the signs of sensory processing issues?

Some common signs of sensory processing issues include being overly sensitive or under-responsive to sensory input, difficulty coordinating movements, and challenges with balance and spatial awareness. Children with sensory processing issues may also have difficulty with self-regulation, attention, and social interactions.

3. How is sensory processing disorder diagnosed?

Sensory processing disorder is typically diagnosed by an occupational therapist with specialized training in sensory integration. They will assess a child’s responses to various sensory inputs, observing their behavior, motor skills, and functional performance in everyday activities.

4. Can sensory processing issues be treated?

Yes, sensory processing issues can be treated using a variety of therapeutic interventions, most commonly through occupational therapy. An occupational therapist will work with the child to develop an individualized treatment plan that may include sensory integration therapy, coping strategies, environmental modifications, and activities to improve motor skills and coordination.

5. How can I support my child’s sensory needs at home?

To support your child’s sensory needs at home, consider creating a sensory-friendly environment that includes a variety of sensory activities and tools. You can also modify daily routines and activities to be more sensory-friendly, and be mindful of your child’s sensory preferences when choosing clothing, food, and other daily essentials. Communicate with your child about their needs and collaborate with their therapist to incorporate therapeutic strategies into your home life.

Related Parenting Terms

  • Sensory Integration
  • Proprioception
  • Tactile Processing
  • Vestibular System
  • Visual Perception

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