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Behaviour, Book, Sensitivities, sensory integration

Experience of the Environment: Child, Family, Community and the world.

Given their heightened ability to process subtleties, we should consider the quality of external influences as central to the “self” formation of highly sensitive children. While the processing of sensory input is internal, the inputs themselves are external elements. Energy emanates from all sentient being, as such it is important to understand the quality of energy people and the world bring to these children.

Interestingly, the quadrivia approach, that we saw earlier, reinforces from a theoretical perspective what arboriginal culture already articulated: a child exists in a social context, a family, a community and the world. Adapted from Cindy Blacksock’s aboriginal health model, which we explored in chapter 5, the figure below shows these influences.

Figure 4: Experiential Influences      image008

These elements constitute the immediate environment (E) of a child and are the first items that will be sensed or experienced by a child and as a result have a direct impact on his/her health balance. But this environment is built upon energy/force fields (e) emanating from space, natural elements, plants, objects, people and technology. The influence of these elements can be unperceivable but, never the less, can have an incredible impact of a child’s sensory health. These elements are operating simultaneously on the senses, thus the use of circles to represent each field of influence, affecting each other and operating in unison. These fields of influences shape a child’s experience of the world and as a result forge his/her perception of reality.

Trying to understand a sensory issue means becoming sensory and experience detectives.

In relation to Integral theory, this method is similar to the quadratic approach, depicted in the figure below, that relies on quadrant dimensions. The passage below illustrates how a person can obtain a deeper level of awareness by becoming familiar with these fields of experiences:

“Through his use of different aspects of his own awareness, or through formal methods based on these dimensions of awareness, he is able to encounter these different realities in a direct and knowable fashion. In brief, he has direct access to experiential, behavioral, cultural, and social/systemic aspects of reality because these are actual dimensions of his own existence. This is useful to him because it empowers him to notice, acknowledge, and interact more effectively with his world. In short, the more of these “channels” he has open the more information he will be obtaining about what is happening around him and he will be able to feel and act in ways that are timely and insightful. Notice right now how you are engaged in all three perspectives: first-person (e.g., noticing your own thoughts as you read this), second-person (e.g., reading my words and interpreting what I am trying to convey), and third-person (e.g., sitting there aware of the light, sounds, and air temperature around you). Do you see how you are always experiencing the world from all four quadrants—right here, right now? It is that simple.”[i]

Figure 6: The four quadrants of an individual’s experience



These dimensions can be useful to help the child understand the varied sensory dimensions he/she perceives as a result of his/her own embodied awareness. Let’s begin with a child’s subjective experience. Subject of the next post.

Previous: inputs: the hidden dimensions of a sensitive sensory life

Next: A Highly Sensitive Child’s Unitive Sensory Experience

Work Cited:

[i] Esbjorn-Hargens, Sean (2009). “An All-Inclusive Framework for the 21st Century. An Overview of Integral Theory”. Integral Post. Integral life. March 12th, 2009. https://www.integrallife.com/integral-post/overview-integral-theory



  1. Pingback: A Highly Sensitive Child’s Unitive Sensory Experience | The Highly Sensitive Family - February 4, 2015

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