Explaining Sensory Regulation in Layman’s Terms

arousal chart.0Therapists frequently ask “How do I explain these concepts to parents?” “What is sensory regulation?”

In order to participate in our every day tasks we need a background of alertness that is created in the brain allowing us to attend, think and participate. Different tasks require different states of arousal and alertness. The state needed to watch tv is quite different from the one required for playing soccer!

The typical nervous system has the flexibility and skills to adapt and move from one state to another with ease. Many of the children we work with have greater difficulty with this ability. For some reason their brains do not have the ease of connection to alter, regulate and organize the internal chemistry of the brain or the behavior that we see.

With practice of the right type of experience, the brain can learn to REGULATE and organize itself. When there is a match between the just right state of the brain and the demands of the environment, the brain goes “AHA” and the neural nets line up. This is called state dependent learning.

The goal of therapy is to help find the “AHA” so that the child can learn to SELF-REGULATE and use thinking, sensation and the environmen t to learn to change their own behavioral state.
In my mind self-regulation is the substrate for all learning, interaction and functional performance.