Sensory Motor Skills

Sensory motor skills (also known as sensorimotor skills) are those we use to take in information about the world through our senses and to develop our body’s movement, or motor, response to that information (if we need to jump out of the way of a speeding tricycle that we see headed our way, for instance). We take in information about the world through our systems of vision, hearing, smell, taste, touch, balance and spatial orientation (called the vestibular system), and proprioception (position, motion, and equilibrium).

It’s difficult to know exactly what interferes with a child’s sensory motor skills – sometimes the factors are genetic, sometime environmental – but children do run into trouble in this area. It shows up in difficulties with motor planning, the ability to plan and organize oneself to do a brand-new task. Children with motor planning disorders may seem clumsy or accident-prone, or confused when trying something new.

Sensory motor skills are some of the most complex we humans have, and they are the foundation of all we learn. All our movements as babies – creeping, crawling, reaching, pulling, rolling over, and babbling – integrate our brain’s hemispheres and set us up to learn even more complex activities and tasks as we grow.

How can I help my child’s sensory motor skills?

At CTS, an occupational therapist (OT) can assist your child with sensorimotor difficulties by providing sensory experiences at a level your child can tolerate, learn from, and make appropriate adaptive responses. An OT will analyze activities to develop the underlying sensory systems required for each activity, for example, fine motor, visual-perception, and visual-motor skills for a child having difficulty with shoe tying