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The Secret Sensory System: Is it Impacting Your Child?

The sensory system is something that we are all familiar with. Typically, when the sensory system is mentioned the first things that spring into your mind are some of your favorite things like the smell of the holidays, the sight of a sunset, the taste of a warm cookie, the sound of the ocean, and the touch of your comfiest blanket on a cold night. In addition, most of us also know about the vestibular and proprioceptive systems, and their impact on children’s self-regulation. However there is another sensory system, the interoceptive system.

This system may become overlooked, overshadowed, and often forgotten about, however it plays an integral part to the homeostasis of your body. The interoceptive system is the sensory system of your internal organs that sense such things as hunger, thirst, mood, heart rate, temperature, and the urgency to utilize the restroom.

Therefore when a child experiences a dysfunction in this system, their body does not recognize and respond in the same manner to stimuli, and as a result a child may having difficulty with such things as potty training, eating, or determining the correct clothes to pick for the day based on temperature.

It is important to remember that the responses we have to sensory stimuli manifest as a motor response ( responses that we see as behavior at times),and that response can either be seen and interpreted as appropriate or inappropriate. Like the other sensory systems a child may be under or over responsive, meaning that the receptors on their internal organs are either not giving them enough information ( perhaps resulting in potty accidents), or they are giving them too much information and are causing them distress (perhaps resulting in outbursts.)

In order to help your child overcome the dysregulation in their interoceptive system, there are a range of activities and programs to help build their emotional awareness and vocabulary. Such programs include the Zones of Regulation, and the book entitled Emotional Intelligence 2.0. In addition some activities that may be beneficial to increase regulation are as follows:

  • Learning Body Signs: Working with your child when they are mad/sad/excited/hungry/need to use the restroom, to help them identify how their body acts/feels during these times.
  • Breathing to either alert (fast breathing) or calm (slow breathing) their system depending on if the child is under or over responsive to their internal system.

In addition, as occupational therapists, we know that proprioception and deep pressure are very organizing sensory inputs to the body. Your therapist will work with your child to establish a sensory diet in order to assist in providing additional sensory stimulation to encourage organization of the body and more appropriate responses.  

The overall goal is to help your child identify and process different internal sensations in the body to elicit the appropriate response. Working with  your occupational therapist will help you determine if your child may be experiencing these problems and how best to overcome them and continue to grow and learn.

If you feel your child is experiencing difficulty with sensory processing it may be time to schedule an evaluation. Click here to schedule.
Citation: Whitney,R.(2018). Interoception:The
hidden sensory,Article 4515. Retrieved from

Article written by Occupational Therapist, Samantha Kellend

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Crystal Scheibe

Great place, glad we found them. Been going to Medina over 2 months now and he loves Lauryn and Kyler. Wish they had more ABA therapy places available... live in Wooster and long drive everyday.

Karrie Swan LaRock

My 11 year old son has dyslexia and has made noticeable gains in working At LLA THERAPY. Katie is strong in her approach toward him and also keeps him comfortable enough to perform well. We will continue visiting both the Fairlawn and Hudson offices and recommend them highly.

Ron Monroe

My 9 year old just completed about 9 months of weekly speech sessions (due to his stuttering) with Matt Hagge at LLA and we are thrilled with the experience and results. What I thought might be a negative (what kid really wants to go to speech class?) was made very positive by Matt, and my son never hesitated or complained when we talked about class. He really enjoyed it and really took what Matt taught him to heart. His speech has been greatly improved and we definitely recommend LLA. Thank you so much!

Heather Dougherty-Pantoja

My son’s Occupational Therapist, Jess, is an amazing OT! She gives practical tips on working with my son at home and school!

Terri Apgar

I cannot say enough good things about LLA Therapy. My daughter was a client of Teal Simmons’ for approximately 2 years and was just released from speech therapy! She was diagnosed with Apraxia in 2015 and worked with Teal twice a week. Through Teal’s application of PROMPT therapy, my daughter had age-appropriate speech after one year. All of the staff we interacted with at LLA were absolutely wonderful. They really care about what they do and making sure your child achieves their goals.

Kelli Geisler Davisson

LLA Therapy has been an excellent experience for my son as well as my family! My son always asks, "When can I go see Ms. Jeannine again, is it Monday??" He has also made huge gains in only 5 months! I would highly recommend LLA and have already shared my experience with friends looking for services!

Victoria Hansford-Price

We are so grateful for our Speech Therapist Ms.Teal. We have seen a great improvement with our sons confidence and communication abilities since we have started "Prompt" therapy. What we love the most about LLA and Ms. Teal is that Kohl feels comfortable and relaxed which has played a critical role in his progress. Thank you Ms. Teal for all you have done.

Laura Lee Hogsett

They have helped in numerous ways. Speech, OT and behavioral. I've had numerous compliments on my son's progress thanks in very large part to LLA. I would recommend LLA before I recommend our local children's hospitals, though they are good, they don't have the staff that LLA does.

Amy Furukawa

We had a great experience with Matt Hagge at LLA! Our Middle School age son was becoming very conscious of his voice, which is nasal due to a cleft palate. Matt helped him to better form his sounds and project his voice in a way that makes the unavoidable nasality less noticeable.Our son is more confident and outgoing & even took on a speaking role in the church play. Matt has the perfect personality to relate with our son, and we would recommend him to anyone needing speech therapy services!

Jessica Havalotti

LLA Therapy has been an excellent experience for our daughter. I would highly recommend LLA. Miss Grace was so amazing and I can't believe how quickly our daughter showed improvement. Thank you!
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