Sensory Processing

A few minutes a day over 20 months saw this transformation.

Have you ever heard of it?

I first learned about it when my son (aged 2) was identified as having developmental dyspraxia. That was 20 years ago now. Naturally I was keen to learn and understand more so that I could support him in acquiring the many skills he would need; those that we too often take for granted.

Sensory Processing is all about the way we register and perceive sensory information through different channels.

The brain organises sensations received, then responds with movements and behaviours that allow us to learn and interact usefully with people, with tasks and with our environment.

Early on we are taught the general descriptors for our senses (sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste) but there are 3 other terms that are less familiar: tactileproprioception and vestibular.

I will develop these more in separate articles (and their importance in enabling us to write by hand) but for now here’s a simple overview:

  • Tactile

This is our sense of touch. Sensations come from receptors in the skin all over our bodies. Tactile input is important to us emotionally (think about a hug) but it is also very specific, giving lots of detailed information about the body which allows us to respond with great precision and dexterity. Writing involves many touch sensations.

  • Proprioception

This refers to the sense of body position. Sensations from muscles and joints give us information about our body parts and how they are moving. This helps us guide our arm and leg movements without constantly having to look at what we are doing. Writing, driving and touch typing are examples of activities which require good proprioception.

  • Vestibular

This is our sense of balance, coordination and movement. Receptors are located in the inner ear and activate every time we move or change our head position. It affects coordinating both sides of the body, and the movement of our eyes. This helps us to control our posture and balance, and know where we are in space. When writing, our vestibular sense helps us copy information from another source to our page.

Interesting isn’t it? The good news is, all that I learned in order to support my son, helped the pupils in my classes too; it gave me the understanding and skills to help hundreds of people improve their handwriting over the years. For that I am extremely grateful.

It now gives me great pleasure to share my experience, skills and passion to support teachers and school staff as well as students and others themselves.

Nicky Parr , Managing Director Better Handwritten Ltd

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