Eight Sensory Systems

Did you know that we actually have eight sensory systems? All eight of these systems working together are essential to development and our daily lives.

Proprioception: The sense that tells the body where it is in space. The receptors are located in the muscles and joints and are activated during heavy work. Activities include jumping, swinging, climbing, pushing, and pulling.

Auditory: This sense gives you information about what you hear including sounds and noises around you. The receptors are located in the inner ear. Auditory input includes music, talking, humming, background noise, etc.

Visual: This sense gives you information about what you see and how things look. The receptors are your eyes. Visual input includes light and dark, colors, size, finding things in a cluttered space, noticing similarities and differences.

Olfactory/Smell: This sense notices odors and smells. The receptor is your nose. Different smells may include enjoyable and displeasing, sweet, fruity, etc. Smells can be used to make you feel more energized or relaxed and are tied closely with taste, memories and experiences.

Vestibular: Gives us information about our head and body position in space. It allows us to know if we are moving and what direction we are moving, even if our eyes were to be closed. The receptors are located in our inner ear. It is the organizer of all other sensory systems. Vestibular input includes spinning, swinging, and rocking.

Gustatory/Oral: Gustatory system helps us process taste, food textures, and temperatures. Receptors are located on our tongue and mouth. Gustatory input includes: spicy, sweet, sour, savory, crunchy, soft, hot, cold foods. Our mouth also has proprioception receptors that give us information from oral motor input (chewing, sucking, or swallowing).

Tactile: Gives us information on touch input (i.e. anything that comes in contact with our skin). Receptors are located in our skin. Tactile input includes messy play (slime, shaving cream, sand), different clothing items, lotion, etc.

Interoception: Internal sensations that give us clues to what we are feeling (body temperature, hunger levels, bladder/bowel control, sickness, emotions). For example- interoception helps us know that when our stomach grumble, we are hungry.





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