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Switch Off by Angela Lockwood

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Chapter 4 Understanding your behaviours

Sensory processing and its impact on behaviour came to my attention in the early 2000s when I was exposed to the work of a group of committed therapists in Alberta, Canada, who were exploring why some children seem to find it hard to cope with everyday situations and environments. It was through working in early intervention centres for children with behavioural and developmental challenges that I was exposed to the work of Dr A. Jean Ayres, an occupational therapist and educational psychologist.

We are constantly bombarded with sensory information from our external environment and from within us. After years of research and clinical observation Dr Ayres concluded that some people find it especially hard to switch off or even modulate the signals their bodies are receiving. Her ‘sensory integration theory' proposes that integrating sensory information is a neurobiological process that organises for our use the many sensations we experience through various means including touch, smell, sound, vision, taste, movement and gravity. The sensory system interprets and reconciles these signals to make sense of our environment. We then respond appropriately, but sometimes this process isn't as smooth as we would like.

Sensory overload

Sensory processing disorder (SPD) occurs when sensory signals aren't processed into appropriate responses. According to the Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation, a person with SPD ‘finds it difficult to process ...

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