The brain is a plastitic, growing organ, connected to the five base senses, upon all initial knowledge is gained. Sensory integration is vital, in order for
the more complicated life skills to develop. Proprioceptive senses (or place in space), Vestibular senses (movement knowledge), and tactile, auditory,
visual, and olfactory input, must all integrate successfully as a base of a pyramidal-shaped base, with cognitive development the uppermost process.
Through sensory integration, the body-brain connection builds the life-long knowledge it will need to form lasting reasoning, social, emotional, and
However, some educators, researchers, and scientists, believe conclusive evidence of mind-brain connections must exist in order to institute
educational changes for elementary children they were trained to teach. However, with current focus on the deteriorating state of American education
and existing IDEA mandates, they must accept new approaches to individualized, effective approaches that incorporate whole-brain education.
To the policy-makers who have power to change curriculum and approve funding, the case for sensory integration for whole-brain education for all
students still remains illusive. At the funding level, those who look but cannot see, hear but cannot listen, or have not engaged in communication with
multiple children are unaware of this discipline
Concrete thinkers believe scientific evidence must exist to prove an academic point. They hypothesis in published papers that sensory integration is
merely a "placebo effect", created by overly excited parents, wanting to believe in a miracle "cure" for developmentally delayed children. I disagree.
Emphasis on sensory integration from infancy creates an environment for strengthening intra- and inter-hemispheric brain connections, paving the way
for "formal" brain education in the existing static educational environment. Sensory integration stimulation is already used by educators in their
classrooms, although they may not identify it as such.
Science emphasizes proving something exists. Hypotheses are formed, research completed, and theory proven wrong. Any benefits resulting from
research are only anecdotal in nature, and thus are limitless. Children have limitless potential, from the time of conception, onward. Culture limits this
potential by its expectations, its economics, and its overall standards. Opportunities limited by society, economics, education, and parental behavior
all affect this culture phenomena.
All of us are equipped with an ability to use our brain to learn great things. From infancy forward, its limitless plasticity must be capitalized on.
Sensory integration techniques, usually incorporated in programs helping developmentally delayed children, are key for all children to optimize their
potential. Sensory integration education is essential for creating equal accessibility for all children.
Many programs currently available recognize the need for such stimulation. Unfortunately, most are cost- and time-prohibitive, both to families and to
school districts. The education about such instruments is not widely disbursed. This funding and benefit disparity needs recognition and correction. All
children, educated to their potential, increase population productivity and standard of living within society. This, in turn, decreases crime rates,
increases living standards and increases educational standards and expectations.
Cooperation among community stake holders, government, and humanity thereby improves. However, that idea is very hard to sell to the current
population. It must start parent by parent, child by child. If every mother and father believes in the ability to maximize their child's potential through
sensory integration, it is their right and their obligation to do so.
Methods of Learning
Our vestibular, proprioceptive, and tactile senses are the bases of all learning. Stacked on top of these are the senses of sight, sound, touch, and
smell. On top of these senses come all types of learning.
Learning to walk, seemingly an easy enough milestone, is based on the milestones of raising one's head, rolling over, building trunk and neck strength,
as well as visual perception, and a sense of space and self.
Learning to walk uses both sides of the brain in crossing the midline, a skill which requires the development of the corpus callosum. The corpus
callosum, located between the left and right brain hemispheres, is a small, flat organ at birth. Integrated sensory stimulation to all the body's senses
develops the connections across the brain and within the brain halves.
Corpus callosum development includes billions of fibrous connections. These connections continue to grow and strengthen well into the fourth decade
of life and beyond. Connections strengthened with repetition replace connections pared off by disuse. Lifelong skills are mastered.
Childhood games, such as jump rope, running, red-light/green-light, catch, hopscotch, and tag are games that emphasize small and large muscle use,
muscle coordination, and visual and auditory control.
Using building blocks, playing with pretend grown-up tools, and caring for baby dolls, form building blocks. These underlying connections form the
basis for understanding the more complex directions and coordination needed to play games of baseball, basketball, volleyball, soccer, and tennis.
Somersaults, cartwheels, swinging, tumbling, climbing playground equipment or trees, skateboarding, and bicycling, teaches brain-body coordination
and balance. Acclimating the body’s place in space in the mind (proprioception) is learned through various positions. Vestibular motion gives input to
joints and muscles, strengthening motor balance as well as increasing brain connections required for building intelligence
Stimulation of these simple senses does not take any type of formal program. Brain input is the same whether input is from a home or a playground
area. Teaching with simple items, a child feels what hard, soft, squishy, and stiff is, can identify textures of plants, trees, wood, vinyl, and glass.
Educating through a multi-sensory approach reinforces a child's comprehension. For example, cubes, circles, squares, cylinders, houses, and hot
dogs manipulated from Play-Doh transforms play into a tactile learning experience coupled with auditory input as these shapes are labeled.
Auditory labeling and identifying items a child can see, hear, taste, and smell enhances the brain’s developing language center. A child naturally will
mimic a caregiver’s behavior. A child is dependent upon primary caretakers in his or her world to begin modeling learning behavior and molding
In the first two years of life, a language base is acquired, and nursery thymes, stories, and singsong repetitions build phonemes, the basic segments
and elements of a particular language, are stored within memory. Without such exposure to language, skills to acquire language cannot mature.
Listening to symphonic sounds, jazz, harmonic, or nature sounds will also stimulate auditory discrimination within the brain structure, and builds
bridges between the two hemispheres.
If the corpus callosum is missing, damaged or altered, other potential pathways include the anterior commissure, a much smaller pathway connecting
the brains through thousands of white connections (considered the wiring of the brain) existing over the olfactory bulb. This pathway cannot compete
with the mighty strength of the billions of connections that form in the corpus callosum.
The plasticity of the brain and its endless connections continues to amaze scientists, parents, and doctors alike. I have seen a child, without a corpus
callosum, walking, talking and doing the things normally not seen in a child without one. He is my child.
I exposed him to every sensory technique I came across, by pure innate instinct. He had another rare diagnosis from birth, unrelated to his brain, but
as I was already doing sensory activities with my first-born daughter, I just continued them with my son. When we found out he was missing his
corpus callosum entirely, I can only point out all the stimulation I did with him prior to and after he was diagnosed, as to how well he is functioning
Building Success into the Adult Years
Early brain stimulation builds a child's curiosity throughout life. The foundation is laid for education through the full senses. The educational system,
exposure to arts, sciences, and novel physical recreational experiences, will determine a child's success in life. Dictated by the amount of, or lack of,
early childhood sensory stimulation may determine the life choices available to him, how self-confident or how challenged he feels, and how successful
an adult that child becomes. Infant and early education matters!
Infants become pre-schoolers, grow into grade-schoolers, and mature into teenagers. Facing the pressures of early adulthood, a fully engaged,
reasoning brain, (built on sensory pathways established at a young age by caring, engaging adults), is a resourceful tool to have.
Decisions made during these critical years speak to the future success of these children. The brain’s wiring will convince children to choose to pursue
higher education or career success, or a path towards self-destruction. I urge all parents to engage children's brain power early. It is never too late,
and never too complex. Start walking in the woods, listening to different types of music, having family game nights, or using word-find books.
As a parent or grandparent, your active brain still seeks sensory input. As a person ages, the physical pursuits of golf, tennis, racquetball, or running,
all recall muscle and brain memory formed in childhood and early adulthood.
Taking up a new sport, hobby, or craft all require either re-building or strengthening brain connections that may have become lax or dormant. As the
old axiom goes, “It's like riding a bicycle, you never forget.” Active seniors are the driving force behind today's new fitness craze. Active bodies fuel
Choose brainpower for yourself and your children, no matter what your age, life situation, or circumstance. If you cannot do it for yourself, do it for
your children. Excellence in children's education protects economic security, democratic integrity, and preserves the ideals America holds dear. It
prepares our children to defend, expand, and protect the security, science, and technological advances America has always been known for, and for
which Americans have seemingly taken for granted over the last 20 years. Sensory integration education is an excellent way to educate our children,
another avenue to approach learning, and hopefully, equalize education for all children.
Study more from one of the best resources on sensory integration and its effects on the developing brain:
|Brain Education Through Sensory Integration* Jennifer Cummins * Omnibus Writing * 2010 *
|Brain Education Through Sensory Integration