Little ones have a lot to say; they just don’t know how to say it. They may babble and talk in gibberish to you, or demand your attention by yelling or pulling at you. They may request “juice,” but mean cookie.
Although children begin utilizing 2–3-word phrases between 2-3 years of age, it doesn’t mean they know what or how to verbally express themselves clearly. This guessing game can easily turn into an onslaught of tears, tantrums, and frustration for both parents and child.
Talking doesn’t start at the mouth. Before we can speak or give meaning to language, we must learn to move.
Movement is necessary to explore our surroundings and travel from point A to point B (even if it is just to the couch). Motor development relies on the teamwork of the tactile (touch), proprioceptive (body awareness), and vestibular (movement) systems to establish a physical awareness of self to feel safe and move without fear.
Research has shown that achieving motor milestones may also be closely linked to unlocking cognitive abilities, like speech and language.
Speech and language are not easy skills to achieve. Before we can talk or make sense of what people are saying, our sensory foundations must be established. This explains why most kids aren’t fully conversational until around 3 years old.
For example, intelligible speech can’t happen without the cooperation of the vestibular (movement), proprioceptive (body awareness), and tactile (touch) systems who govern the fine motor movements, coordination, and motor planning of the throat, lips, and jaw. If we are to understand a conversation, our auditory (hearing) system needs to differentiate between sounds of words to not mix up what someone is communicating to us.
We’re all familiar with the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Avengers, right? An ensemble of superheroes coming together to stop formidable foes who threaten our world. Well, our sensory systems operate in the same way.
Each sense has their own set of responsibilities but will team up with one another to understand what’s going on around us and how to appropriately respond. This collab is known as sensory integration.
Sensory integration (SI for short, also known as sensory processing) refers to the processing, integration, and organization of sensory information from our body and the environment. This process allows us to participate in day-to-day functions, from self-care to socializing.
Know where you stand. We know this figuratively, but how about literally? How do we literally understand where we are and how we move amongst other objects and people in our environment? The proprioceptive system is designed to help us understand our physical sense in this world and how we physically interact with it.