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Growth & Development


Sensory processing or sensory integration refers to the ability of our nervous system to receive information through our senses (taste, smell, auditory, visual, touch, movement and body position) and organize it in a meaningful and appropriate way.




If a child presents any of the following behaviours in extreme or with exaggeration, and these behaviours do not seem typical for a child of his or her age, consider this a red flag:


► Responds negatively to unexpected or loud noises

► Is distracted or has trouble functioning if there is a lot of background noise

► Enjoys strange noises/seeks to make noise for noise sake

► Seems to be “in his own world”


► Needs help to find objects that are obvious to others

► Avoids eye contact

► Squints, or looks out of the corner of the eye

► Is attracted to bright, flashing objects like TV or computer screens

► Is more bothered by bright light as compared to same age children e.g. blinks, squints, cries, closes eyes, etc.


► Avoids certain tastes/smells that are typically part of the child’s diet

► Chews/licks non-food objects

► Gags easily

► Is a picky eater, especially regarding textures, flavours, smells and temperature

Movement and Body Position

► Continually seeks out all kinds of movement activities (being whirled by adult, playground equipment, moving toys, spinning, rocking)

► Becomes anxious or distressed when feet leave ground

► Poor endurance - tires easily; seems to have weak muscles

► Avoids climbing, jumping, uneven ground or roughhousing

► Bumps into things, failing to notice people or objects in the way

► Seems not to get dizzy when others usually do

► Enjoys exaggerated positions for long periods (e.g., lies head-upside-down off sofa)


► Becomes upset during grooming e.g. hair cutting, face washing, fingernail cutting

► Has difficulty standing in line or close to other people; or stands too close, always touching others

► Shows an emotional or aggressive response to being touched

► Fails to notice when face or hands are messy or wet

► Craves lots of touch: heavy pressure, long sleeved clothing, hats and certain textures

Activity Level

► Always on the go; difficulty paying attention

► Very inactive — seems to tire easily and will often slump in chairs or lean against objects for support

► Seems unaware of pain


► Needs more protection from life than other children i.e. defenseless physically or emotionally

► Has difficulty with changes in routines, plans or expectations

► Is stubborn or uncooperative; gets frustrated easily

► Has difficulty making friends

► Has difficulty understanding body language or facial expressions

► Does not feel positive about own accomplishments i.e. low self-esteem 



Services and Information related to Sensory Development:

Having more general concerns about a child's development?

Having difficulty coping? Need some advice?

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