Some children find that they struggle with the sensory input that a school environment provides. We aim to reduce the sensory difficulties that may be face by keeping a routine in place which is communicated with a visual timetable and warning children of any known changes in advance.
To support children with sensory difficulties, we might:
- Build in 'brain breaks' or 'sensory breaks' to support the child.
- Provide a quiet work space to use when needed.
- Seat the child away from doors, windows, or buzzing lights.
- Adjust the desk and chair so the student’s feet are flat on the floor and hips are at a 90-degree angle, or put a footstool under the desk.
- Attach a stretchy exercise band to the chair legs or desk for children who need to bounce their feet.
- Let the child work in a different position, like lying on the floor using a clipboard or at an easel.
- Provide a weighted vest, wiggle cushion, or other OT-approved sensory tools.
- Provide earplugs or noise-muffling headphones to help with noise sensitivity.
- Let the student use handheld fidgets.
- Work with the student to come up with a 'sign' to use when overwhelmed or in need of a break.
- Create a proactive behaviour support plan for handling sensory triggers.
- Give advance warning and verbal reminders of loud noises like planned fire alarms.
- Reduce the need for handwriting (for example, use fill-in-the-blank questions instead of short-answer questions).
- Allow extra time for writing to accommodate motor skills fatigue.
- Let the student use a computer.
- Reduce the amount of visual information on a page.
- Provide coloured overlays for reading to reduce visual distraction.
- Use blank pieces of paper to cover all but a few of the questions on a page.
- Offer pencil grips or writing boards.
- Use a highlighter or sticky notes to help the student stay alert and focused.
Every child is different so it is important that the school and home work together to create the right package of support for each child who experiences difficulties.
Helpful websites for more information: