Some words have the power to invoke sensory responses. They are called sensory words.
Sensory words help us recognize the relation between the form and the meaning of an object or action. For example, the word striding is referring to a special kind of walk. Striding has long steps and an indecisive temperament. Similarly, the word ‘powdery’ is pointing at the texture of an object. It’s a fine-grained and dry texture.
Striding and powdery are sensory words. We use them to our advantage. With their help, we give more sensory meaning to our language. Using them could play an important role in the formation of sensory skills.
It is complex to understand how we resonate with the sensory words we read or listen to. However, when they are rightly packed together, sensory words have the capacity to alter the emotional and physiological states of readers and listeners. For example, simply terming an activity unpleasant or pleasant could determine our opinion of it.
Apart from the other things, sensory words reveal the personality of the message. Unlike the stuttering academic text, a language filled with eliciting words dazzles and dances. The more you experience the language through the words that could involve your physical senses, the more you get engaged with the conveyed message.
How can sensory words help with developing sensory skills?
First, let’s try to understand how our sensory system works. We process billions of things to survive. Our sensory system has gone through evolutionary adaptations to process and react to our changing environments. It is hardware that consistently resolves potential threats.
We could make our neural hardware more efficient by introducing sensory-based analogies. Efficient processing would require simplifying the abstract concepts into well-articulated words. Roughly speaking, this is how we translate the complexities of our three-dimensional experience to another person. It’s not an easy task. And of course, many children have sensory-related difficulties. However, if we use sensory-rich language, we could arrive at a more comprehensible narrative instead of abstruseness.
A sensory-based language clarifies the meaning instead of making it obscure, similar to how a good statistical visualization makes use of bars and charts to map out the abstract ideas, which readers may not understand if we dryly served them. Similarly, analogies and metaphors act as tools to display our messages in three-dimensional experiences and emotions.
On the other hand, sensory deprived vocabulary acts as a hindrance to comprehension. Different areas of the brain process different words and meanings. With dry language, we leave a major part of our nervous system uninvolved. Sensory poor language dulls imagination, which may further add to the preexisting learning difficulties in children.
While approaching a child with a sensory processing disorder, it is ideal to use a language that’s enriched with sensory words. Besides receiving the original message and meaning, children get engaged with the language on multiple cognitive levels. If done right, sensory words could draw children towards discovering meaningful patterns between their emotions and language.
We have made a thoughtful list of 240 sensory words that can add sensory depth to your language. You could also download a printable pdf chart here. Bookmark this article for future reference.
When we listen to words, our brains analyze and recover their meaning. This experience of recovering the meaning becomes much richer when we use sensory words. Sensory words tickle the imagination. They pull back from our sensory memory when somebody conveys an idea filled with vivid details.
The real power of sensory words comes when we don’t let the words rest on the page. Through our list of 240 sensory words, we hope you sprinkle descriptive words into your vocabulary and make your communication more efficient.