Autism Spectrum Disorders

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The Sensory Detective Curriculum

The Sensory Detective Curriculum

Discovering Sensory Processing and How It Supports Attention, Focus and Regulation Skills
edition:Paperback
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Excerpt

Our brain can put all this information together to give us information about everything; what is happening in our bodies and what is happening in the environment. It’s absolutely marvelous! When we go outside for recess, we can feel our clothing as we move down the stairs toward the doors to the playground. We can keep our balance on the stairs and we know the position of our body, which enables us to turn around corners and make it through the doorway. Once we are outside, we scan the playground, using our vision and auditory systems and find our friends who are organizing a game of baseball. We switch from walking to running. We don’t fall because our vestibular and proprioception systems are working together to give us a constant flow of the information we need to stay upright. We may be biting into an apple and tasting that yummy goodness at the same time! We make it to our friends and begin to play.

Sensory processing happens in a part of our central nervous system called a brain stem. The brain stem is like a relay station; all the information is carried to the brain stem through individual sensory nerves. The information from all the senses gets filtered in the brain stem. Important information comes into focus and unimportant information is discarded. The brain stem works with another system called the limbic system, our emotional system, to determine what is important to pay attention to and what to ignore in that moment. For example, when we are going down the stairs, information from our vestibular, proprioceptive, tactile and visual systems come to the forefront to ensure that we don’t fall. We don’t pay as much attention to our olfactory or gustatory systems in this task. However, on pizza day, when we are eating a delicious slice of hot cheesy pizza, our brain pays more attention to our olfactory and gustatory systems so that we can enjoy the taste of the pizza.

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