Sensory describes the way the body responds to environmental stimuli or information, like sounds, textures, lights, smells, pain, and temperature. Kids who are blind or have low vision, and kids who are Deaf or hard of hearing, have reduced sensory awareness.
Sensory concerns also include extreme reactions or behaviour in response to sensory information. Some kids can find certain sensory information uncomfortable or distressing. For example, some kids may be bothered by loud noises (e.g., covering their ears or become upset in large crowds), while others may be oversensitive to certain textures (e.g., being bothered by some fabrics, tags on clothing, or types of food). Some kids can also show an interest in sensory stimuli, like sniffing toys or objects, or being fascinated by lights or movement. Some kids can show under-responsiveness to some types of sensory information, like pain or temperature, which can increase their risk of getting hurt.
All kids can show sensitivity to some types of sensory stimuli, but they often grow out of them or are able to manage it without becoming too distressed.
Kids with developmental delays or difficulties, such as autism spectrum disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, are more likely to have sensory challenges. They may find some sensory stimuli very uncomfortable and distressing, while they find other sensory stimuli comforting. All kids will differ in the type and severity of sensory concerns they have. For example, some kids with autism spectrum disorder will show many sensory concerns, while others may have none or very few. Every child is different.