Sensory Profile | Sensory Ninja

Sensory Saturday: What is a Sensory Processing Profile?

Sensory processing or sensory input refers to the constant flow of the information from sensory receptors in the body to the brain and spinal cord–there are seven total sensory receptors, but today we will focus on information from these five sensory systems:

  • Touch (tactile)
  • Visual
  • Auditory (hearing)
  • Proprioceptive (body position)
  • and Vestibular (balance)

Sensory processing is a complicated set of actions that enable the brain to process sensory input. Without this process, you would not understand what is going on both inside your own body and in the world around you.

Sensory Modulation is the body’s awareness and ability to filter, adjust, and respond to a variety of sensory input based on the frequency, intensity, and duration of that input. Behavior, attention, learning, play as well as peer interactions are significantly influenced by a child’s ability to process sensory stimuli. Self-regulation refers to the way we behave to manage our own needs.

When a child is evaluated by an Occupational Therapist (OT) one of the tests they will utilize is called The Sensory Profile-2. It is a set of judgment-based caregiver–usually mom or dad– questionnaire providing a standardized means to capture a child’s responses during the regular course of daily life. This information provides a unique way to determine how sensory processing may be contributing to or interfering with participation.

The Sensory Profile-2 evaluates four areas or quadrants and determine where a child falls–much less than others to much more than others.

  • Seeking/Seeker: Seekers have an active self-regulation strategy and generate new ideas.
  • Avoiding/Avoider: Avoiders are great at creating routines and order because they need “sameness” to reduce unanticipated sensory input.
  • Sensitivity/Sensor: Sensors detect sensory cues.
  • Registration/Bystander: Bystanders are easygoing.

Example:

The following is a sample of what you might see when you receive a report back from the OT who performs your Sensory Profile-2 evaluation.

Sensory Profile | Sensory Ninja

The sample Sensory Profile assessment reviled that this Ninja is a tactile seeker. This means that they need constant additional input from their surroundings. They might constantly be touching objects around them. In school, they might tap their pencil or want to chew on things. The more sensory input they could get the more alert they will be.

Under the avoiding quadrant, it reviled that this Ninja would move away from activities or work alone. By avoiding interaction they would be able to control their surroundings and the time they would spend on an activity. Whereas working in a group they would have little to no control.

This Ninja fell within “the majority of others” for sensitivity to the feel of tactile objects. What that means they probably are not picky about things like the fabric they wear or the texture of their food.

At the “more than others end” of the Registration/Bystander quadrant, this Ninja will miss sensory cues others would not. For example, they will not notice the teacher calling their name, or they might not notice they have their shirt on backward or twisted.

In summer, this Ninja can successfully use and understand some sensory information, they have difficulty processing touch (Tactile), movement and body position (Proprioceptive) stimulus. These deficiencies correlate with a need for an increased frequency of poor conduct and social/emotional responses. Some of these behaviors can be things such as extreme inattention, seeking out tactile and movement opportunities. This will contribute to making disruptive, impulsive, and/or unsafe choices at home, in school, social outings and during play.


The OT evaluation will take about an hour. For us, it included observing our Ninja’s tone/strength/range of motion, fine motor–Developmental Test of Visual Perception (DTVP-3)–, his ability to self-help, emotional/behavioral responses, and the sensory profile.

I was most fascinated by the results of our Sensory Profile test. Which is why I chose to cover this topic today. For me, it felt like FINALLY, someone understood my child and there he was in black and white. It was a huge relief that after years of struggling to figure things out, we could now put a plan in place and move forward with goals that would help support our Ninja at home and in school.

photo credit: Markus Spiske

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