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Thursday, August 24, 2017

6 Ways to Help the Sensory Sensitive Child


Have you been told you will have a child or children in your class with sensory issues?  
Did you say to yourself "What on earth does that mean?"
Do you have a child you think might be autistic but isn't diagnosed or the testing has come back negative? 

If that's the case, you might have a student that is sensitive to sensory input.

Each year I seem to get more and more students with sensory issues, with or without another diagnosis such as low/high tone, autism or CP.


Let's take a closer look.

What do they look like?

They may be the child with no friends. The one who sits alone. The one other children avoid because they are "odd".  They may become overwhelmed or distracted in situations in which they become over stimulated.  They may seem like they have autism or behaviour problems because of the coping mechanisms they have been using to get through the day.

They may......  

Chew:  On their hands, on their clothes, on toys, on virtually anything.
Scream:  Loud and often.
Hide: These are the kids hiding under the desk or the table, curled into a ball.
Cover their ears: Having their hands over their ears is common.
Throw things: When frustrated, things go flying including their own body.
Spin: Round and round, with or without their arms out.

They may be sensitive to.......

Loud noises
Textures
Lights

They may have difficulty:

Staying still
With transitions



What can we do for them?

Whether your student has been diagnosed or not, here are 6 easy to implement ideas for you to try in the classroom.

1.  Use chew toys

There are lots of inexpensive commercially available chew toys (Chewlry and Chewigem are just two names).  They come in necklaces and bracelets, pencil tops and clip-ons. They have both boy and girl styles and have age appropriate models for any age.



2.  Use headphones

In order to block out loud noises in the auditorium, gym or classroom,  you can get noise cancelling headphones or a regular headset depending on how much sound needs to be muffled.  Some students prefer wearing hats or hoods over their ears if that is enough to make them feel secure.


3. Weighted toys.

Adding weight often helps a child with sensory issues feel more secure and less fidgety.  You can buy commercially made toys or vests in various weights or you can make one yourself.  Add beans or rice to long socks and sew up the end.  Add googly eyes and you have a snake.  Drape over the child's shoulders or across their lap.  Simple and inexpensive.

4. Alternate seating or flexible seating.

Letting your student pick how and where they sit may help reduce off task behaviors.  If they need to stand, let them.  If they need something firm or soft, let them pick.  This ties in with self regulation and advocating for themselves as well.  Giving them control of their environment will reduce their need to fight back against it.


5.  Quiet area

A quiet area is important for the child to have.  They need a space they can go to, to get away from everything that is overwhelming them. This gives them an area to be able to calm down in that is safe, is familiar and has calming items in it such as books, pillows or a favorite toy. 


6. Sensory Area

Having a sensory area available to students with high sensory needs is important for a couple of reasons. For one thing, it can be quite calming.  The deep pressure of pushing and pulling putty or other gooey substances can be soothing while working on fine motor skills and strength.  For another, many children find it calming to look into sensory bottles or lava lamps.  Add these items to your quiet area if they help.


I hope I've given you a few ideas that you can take back to your classroom and implement with the students in your class that are sensory sensitive.

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