Yup! You read that title right. Eight senses. You’re probably thinking, “Um, I’m pretty sure I only know about five.” I know that’s what I was thinking when I was introduced to the concept.
When I learned that the sensory system really consists of eight senses it actually made perfect sense. Everyone has these eight senses but they are most often referred to when discussing sensory processing disorder. Most of us go about our daily lives without much awareness of how our sensory systems are processing information. But someone with sensory processing disorder experiences either low performance or over stimulation from one or more of their senses.
So today as we continue our exploration of how sensory play benefits development we’re introducing the eight senses.
These first five are pretty self-explanatory. Many of us have learned about them from an early age. Our brains draw conclusions about what things are and how they work as we examine what we feel, see, taste, smell and hear. The basic five senses are mostly explored through external stimuli. The remaining three senses are more internal.
- Proprioception– This sense involves the muscles, joints and gross motor movement. It pertains to force of movement, body awareness and stability.
- Vestibular– This sense also pertains to movement and balance. It helps us to know if we’re upside down or right side up. This sense is stimulated by swinging and spinning.
- Interoception– As the “inter” prefix implies this sense involves our internal perception of what is going on with our bodies. It helps us to understand if we are hungry, full or have to use the bathroom.
All of our senses work very closely together, some more so than others of course like taste and smell. With an understanding of the five senses and the additional three it’s easy to see how difficulty with one or more of them would affect a person’s entire body. Sensory play can benefit children with typically developed senses and those with processing disorders. In future posts we’ll explore specific examples of play and how they benefit each one of these senses.