At times we realize the weight and impact our decisions have – not only on ourselves but also on the world around us. Does decision-making begin with logic?
Every waking minute decisions are made. In the past, I had a supervisor state that every decision made has one end goal: regulate body sensations. Therefore, if we choose to sit on the ground verses in a spinning office chair, decide to sip hot coffee instead of drinking a cold fizzy soda, or blast a favorite song in the care instead of sitting in silence – the impact of decision making is driven by our sensory system.
This intrigued me but I honestly felt it was over simplified. There are populations that have difficulty expressing decision making or choosing sensations to support healthy lifestyles. On the extreme, adults with cognitive disorders such as dementia are unable to do so. Kids with sensory processing disorders such as kids on the autism spectrum, also have difficulty expressing their needs and self-regulating.
That said, it is imperative to understand: behavior problems due to sensory regulation issues are directly related, and in proportion to, the way the neurological system takes in, organizes, and makes sense of the input it is receiving. If this process is not working well, we see dysfunction in the form of ‘behavior problems’ (Sensory-Processing-Disorder.com).
Today I worked with someone who had difficultly vocalizing his needs. A Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) was used with the format of him choosing four work activities from a binder with pictures of all related work activities. After choosing and prioritizing each he accomplished all the tasks then returned to his pictures to visually check full completion. There was difficulty transitioning between each activity but by utilizing this novel alternative method, and with repetition, it will become a functional way for him to express his needs.
Adults face big life decisions like moving, employment, or buying a house. This may be a looming activity that directly effects the even smaller, everyday decisions. Behaviors at work, with people, and managing time or stress become variables to that one activity.
Do your sensory needs effect your decision making? What regulates you to be motivated and keep on task?