Lets start at the beginning. We have seven sensory systems:
But it is actually more complicated than that because you have to factor in an individual person's self-regulation strategy when thinking about interventions. Some people are active self-regulators (physically do something to address their personal threshold) while others are passive (won't do anything and just emotionally respond or "meltdown"). Ironically the passive regulators are the ones who are active (sometimes referred to as explosive) in their responses and the active regulators are passive (withdrawn or implosive) in their responses. A sensory diet can be used to regulate either but it really shouldn't be something that stands alone because there are many ways to set up daily routines, activities and learning to allow for ongoing sensory needs for the individuals who have sensory challenges.
What you end up with are 4 different categories of sensory needs for each of the 7 sensory areas (so really 28 different different combinations when it comes to "intervention"):
- low registration - passive self regulation and high sensory threshold
- sensation seeking - active self regulation and high sensory threshold
- sensation avoidance - active self regulation and low sensory threshold
- sensory sensitivity - passive self-regulation and low sensory threshold
- Supporting Children to Participate Successfully in Everyday Life by Using Sensory Processing Knowledge - great explanation of all of this as well as tables that link to how to support each of the four different needs in a variety of different home activities (go to page 91 of the document to see these).
- Asperger Syndrome and Sensory Processing: A Conceptual Model and Guidance for Intervention Plan - if you go down to page 174-75 there is some great background information and then towards the end of the article they have case studies for students in each of the categories and suggestions for how to address sensory needs in school.
- Sensory Processing Ideas to Increase Engagement - A quick and simple summary of sensory processing as well as checklists to help in finding out in which sensory quadrant someone might fall.