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Sensory Seeking Vs. Sensory Sensitive

Sensory Seeking Vs. Sensory Sensitive

Do you ever find yourself constantly seeking out new experiences, textures, or sensations?

Or do you find certain sounds, smells, or textures overwhelming and uncomfortable?

These are two ends of the sensory spectrum known as sensory seeking and sensory sensitivity.

Sensory seeking refers to individuals who actively seek out sensory input and experiences.

They may enjoy trying new foods, seeking out loud music, or seeking out new textures to touch.

On the other hand, sensory sensitivity refers to individuals who are easily overwhelmed by sensory input.

They may feel uncomfortable in crowded or noisy environments, have difficulty with certain textures or smells, or become easily overstimulated.

Understanding your own sensory preferences can be helpful in navigating the world around you.

Whether you are sensory seeking or sensory sensitive, it is important to recognize and respect your own needs and preferences.

In this article, we will explore the differences between sensory seeking vs sensory sensitivity and tips for managing sensory input in your daily life.

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Sensory Processing Overview

What is Sensory Processing?

Sensory processing is the way your brain receives, interprets, and responds to sensory input from your environment.

Sensory input can come from any of your senses, including touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound, as well as your proprioceptive and vestibular senses, which are responsible for your sense of body position and movement.

Diagnostic Criteria

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is a condition in which the brain has difficulty processing and responding to sensory input.

The diagnostic criteria for SPD include:

  • Persistent and recurrent difficulties in processing sensory information
  • Symptoms that interfere with daily life or functioning
  • Symptoms that are not better explained by another medical or psychiatric condition

Severity of SPD

SPD can range from mild to severe and can affect individuals differently.

Some people may be hypersensitive to sensory input and experience discomfort or anxiety in response to certain stimuli, while others may be hyposensitive and seek out sensory input to feel more grounded or alert.

Sensory Seeking vs Sensory Sensitive

Individuals with SPD may be sensory seeking, meaning they actively seek out sensory input to regulate their nervous system and feel more grounded.

They may enjoy activities like jumping, spinning, or chewing on objects.

On the other hand, individuals with SPD may be sensory sensitive, meaning they are easily overwhelmed by sensory input and may experience discomfort, anxiety, or even physical pain in response to certain stimuli.

Overall, sensory processing is a complex and individualized process that can have a significant impact on daily life and functioning.

Understanding your own sensory processing preferences and needs can help you better navigate your environment and engage in activities that promote your overall well-being.

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Sensory Seeking

What is Sensory Seeking?

Sensory seeking is a term used to describe individuals who crave or seek out sensory input.

This can manifest in a variety of ways, including seeking out movement, spinning, rough play, or fidget toys.

Sensory seekers may also have an insatiable need for proprioceptive input, which is the sense of body awareness and position.

Types of Sensory Seeking Behaviors

There are several types of sensory seeking behaviors that individuals may exhibit.

Sensory Seeking Behaviors

-Enjoy activities such as jumping, bouncing, or swinging.

-Enjoy activities such as spinning in circles or on a spinning chair.

-Participate in activities such as wrestling or playing contact sports.

-Fidgeting activities such as playing with fidget toys or tapping their feet.

-Make loud noises

-Non-responsive to pain, hot and cold temperatures, etc.

-Disregard personal space

-Chew on their clothing

Sensory Seeking in Children

Sensory seeking behaviors are common in children, especially those with sensory processing disorder or autism spectrum disorder.

Children may seek out sensory input as a way to regulate their emotions or to feel more grounded.

Providing sensory activities and toys can be helpful for children who are sensory seekers.

Sensory Seeking in Adults

Sensory seeking behaviors can also be present in adults.

Adults may seek out sensory input as a way to reduce stress or anxiety.

Providing sensory tools such as fidget toys or weighted blankets can be helpful for adults who are sensory seekers.

Overall, understanding sensory processing is helpful for individuals who experience these behaviors and for those who work with individuals who experience them.

By providing appropriate sensory input, individuals can feel more regulated and grounded in their environment.

sensory seeking vs sensory sensitive

Sensory Sensitive

What is Sensory Sensitivity?

Sensory sensitivity refers to the heightened sensitivity to various sensory stimuli, such as sound, touch, smell, taste, and visual stimuli.

People who are sensory sensitive may have a lower threshold for sensory input, which means they may experience sensory overload or become overwhelmed by sensory stimuli that others may find tolerable or even pleasant.

Types of Sensory Sensitivity

There are different types of sensory sensitivity, including tactile sensitivity, auditory sensitivity, visual sensitivity, and olfactory sensitivity.

Tactile sensitivity refers to the heightened sensitivity to touch, pressure, and texture.

Auditory sensitivity refers to the heightened sensitivity to sound, including loud noises and high-pitched sounds.

Visual sensitivity refers to the heightened sensitivity to light, color, and visual patterns.

Olfactory sensitivity refers to the heightened sensitivity to smells.

Sensory Sensitivity in Children

Sensory sensitivity is common in children, particularly those with neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Children who are sensory sensitive may be overreactive to sensory stimuli, which can result in behavioral issues, such as being shy, withdrawn, or avoidant of certain activities or environments.

Sensory Sensitivity in Adults

Sensory sensitivity can also affect adults, although it may manifest differently than in children.

Adults who are sensory sensitive may experience discomfort or anxiety in certain situations, such as crowded places or environments with bright lights or loud noises.

They may also have difficulty with certain sensory experiences, such as wearing certain types of clothing or eating certain foods.

In conclusion, sensory sensitivity is a common phenomenon that affects many people, particularly those with neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Understanding sensory sensitivity can help individuals and their loved ones better manage and cope with sensory issues.

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Sensory Tools and Accommodations

Sensory Tools

If you are sensory seeking or sensory sensitive, there are many tools that can help you regulate your sensory input and make you feel more comfortable.

Here are a few examples:

  • Fidget toys can help you focus and calm down by providing tactile stimulation.
  • Weighted blankets can provide deep pressure and a sense of security, which can be calming.
  • Vests with weights or compression can provide sensory input and help regulate your nervous system.


In addition to sensory tools, there are also accommodations that can help you manage your sensory needs.

These might include:

  • Routine can be helpful for both sensory seekers and sensory sensitive individuals. Knowing what to expect can reduce anxiety and provide a sense of security.
  • Sensory avoiding can be helpful for those who are sensitive to certain stimuli. For example, wearing earplugs in noisy environments or avoiding bright lights.
  • Sensory overload can lead to meltdowns or shutdowns. Taking breaks, finding a quiet space, or using sensory tools can help prevent overload.

Remember that everyone’s sensory needs are different, so it’s important to find what works best for you.

If you need accommodations at school or work, don’t be afraid to ask for them.

By understanding your sensory needs and using the right tools and accommodations, you can live a more comfortable and fulfilling life.

sensory seeking vs sensory sensitive

Sensory Processing and Education

Sensory Processing in the Classroom

As an educator, it is important to understand that students have different sensory processing needs.

Some students may be sensory seekers, while others may be sensory sensitive.

This can affect their ability to focus and learn in the classroom.

If a student is sensory seeking, they may require more movement or tactile input to help them stay focused.

Providing fidget toys or allowing them to take short movement breaks can be helpful.

On the other hand, if a student is sensory sensitive, they may be easily overwhelmed by loud sounds or bright lights.

Providing a quiet space or noise-cancelling headphones can help them feel more comfortable and focused.

Sensory Processing and Educators

As an educator, it is important to be aware of your own sensory processing needs as well.

If you are feeling tired or overwhelmed, it can be difficult to provide the support your students need.

Taking breaks or providing yourself with sensory input, such as a stress ball or aromatherapy, can help you feel more focused and energized.

It is also important to avoid making assumptions about students’ sensory processing needs.

Just because a student is not paying attention or seems “lazy,” it does not mean they are not trying.

They may be struggling with sensory overload or a lack of sensory input.

By being aware of these needs and providing appropriate support, you can help all students succeed in the classroom.

Tips for Supporting Students with Different Sensory Processing Needs

– Give fidget toys or movement breaks for sensory seekers

– Provide quiet spaces or noise-cancelling headphones for sensory sensitive students

– Be aware of your own sensory processing needs as an educator

– Avoid making assumptions about students’ behavior

– Provide appropriate support to help all students succeed

Sensory Processing and Medical Advice

Sensory Processing and Occupational Therapy

If you have been diagnosed with sensory processing disorder, your doctor may recommend occupational therapy.

Occupational therapists can help you learn how to manage your sensory processing challenges and develop coping strategies.

They can also provide guidance on how to modify your environment to make it more comfortable for you.

During occupational therapy sessions, your therapist may use a variety of techniques to help you manage your sensory processing challenges.

These may include:

  • Sensory integration therapy
  • Desensitization therapy
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Relaxation techniques

Sensory Processing and Medical Advice

If you are experiencing sensory processing challenges, it is important to talk to your doctor.

They can help you determine whether your symptoms are related to a medical condition or if they are a result of sensory processing disorder.

Your doctor may recommend a variety of treatments depending on the underlying cause of your symptoms.

These may include:

  • Medications
  • Occupational therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Speech therapy

It is important to note that sensory processing disorder is not a recognized medical diagnosis.

However, many doctors and healthcare professionals are familiar with the condition and can provide guidance on how to manage your symptoms.

If you are an adult with sensory processing disorder, it is important to seek medical advice if you are experiencing challenges that are impacting your daily life.

Your doctor can help you determine the underlying cause of your symptoms and provide guidance on how to manage them.

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Final Thoughts About Sensory Seeking vs Sensory Sensitive

Sensory seeking and sensory sensitive are two different ways in which individuals perceive and respond to sensory input from their environment.

Sensory seeking refers to a behavior in which individuals actively seek out sensory stimulation in order to regulate their sensory experiences.

They may crave certain sensations, such as touch, movement, or sound, and seek out activities or objects that provide those sensations. For example, a child who seeks out roughhousing or jumping on a trampoline may be sensory seeking.

Sensory sensitivity, on the other hand, refers to a heightened awareness or sensitivity to sensory input.

Individuals who are sensory sensitive may be easily overwhelmed by certain sensory stimuli, such as bright lights, loud noises, or certain textures.

They may avoid certain activities or environments that are overstimulating or uncomfortable. For example, a child who covers their ears in response to loud noises may be sensory sensitive.

It is important to note that both sensory seeking and sensory sensitivity can be present in individuals with sensory processing issues, which can affect their ability to regulate their sensory experiences in everyday life.

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