Three Types of Sensory Responses That May Make or Break Us

While sitting at your desk, working in the every task and environment your senses are bombarded. All information comes to us through sensory input. An average of 2,000 bits of information per second enters our brain (Willis 2009).

Everyone processes sensory information differently.

Our senses first sift through all of it before it even reaches our awareness.  Neurologically our body organizes then attempts to adjust its reaction to an impulse. Modulation provides a behavior that safely adapts to the stress of change with less risks on health.

Responses to stress vary because of how we each process sensory information differently.

Knowing how your senses respond may empower you to boost performance:

Some of us are hypersensitive or sensory over-responders, in which we react to sensations faster and stronger than those with normal response levels (Reynolds and Jane 2007).  These aren't willful, but automatic and unconscious physiological responses to sensation.

Questions to ask:

  1. Is high activity the preferred daily pace?
  2. Is there impulsiveness in behaviors?
  3. Are there frequent moments of aggressiveness or withdrawn avoidance to situations?

And then there's hyposensitive or sensory under-responsiveness, when we don't react to environmental sensory stimuli (Dunn 1999).

Questions to ask:

  1. Is there a realization of occasional lacking awareness?
  2. Does a common state of apathy or feelings of no enthusiasm and interest occur?
  3. Is procrastination, inconsistency, laziness, or feelings of being unmotivated present?
  4. Are responses often clumsy or with difficulty to follow through in action?

Mangnasensitive or sensory cravers have an insatiable drive for enhanced experiences. They appear fidgety and are excitable.

Questions to ask:

  1. Is there a need to be continuously engaged in visual activities?
  2. Is it common to have music in the background with various activities?
  3. Are deep pressure (heavy/loud walking, pressing hard when writing, kickboxing) and touch (playing with hair, fidgeting with objects, self-massage) activities sought after through each day?

Check out our Pinterest boards to explore unique strategies for each of these sensory types. Our WholeBe method is effective at building awareness of sensory in various environments, tasks, and activities. We each have neurological and sensory needs. Personalizing our work space, tools, and activities can reduce all forms of distractions.


Willis, Judy, What You Should Know About Your Brain, Psychology Today Educational Leadership, ASCD, 2009, p1

Reynolds, Stacey, Lane, Shelly J.,Department of Occupational Therapy, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, Diagnostic Validity of Sensory Over-Responsivity: A Review of the Literature and Case Reports, Springer Science + Media, LLC, 2007

Dunn, W. (1999). The sensory profile: Users manual. San Antonio, TX: The Psychological Corporation.


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