As mentioned in our previous blog post (What is Sensory Processing?), we are starting to understand as a society that we all have different sensory needs. It is essential that schools, and staff working with children and young people, are well-versed in the world of sensory needs and that they are able to provide for the differing sensory needs that children and young people present with.
The word ‘sensory’ may trigger thoughts of sight, hearing, taste, smell, touch, etc., but sensory processing difficulties can be evident in almost every aspect of a typical school day! Sensory processing difficulties can impact an individual’s motor skills (fine and gross) which can have an impact on their writing, for example, or their ability to kick a ball. You may also notice that some children are very reactive to senses: you may notice that a child finds the sound of the school bell intolerable, or that another child will only eat certain foods in the dinner hall. On the other hand, you may notice children that are seeking sensory input. These children may be making ‘noise for noise’s sake’, or frequently chewing on their hair, clothes or fingers. In addition, sensory processing difficulties can impact children’s spatial awareness, meaning they may frequently bump into the table and chairs; their organisation, meaning they may frequently forget their jumper or planner, for example; and their ability to process, understand and respond to instructions. Understandably, these sensory processing difficulties may also result in behaviour concerns. Children and young people may struggle with their emotions and relationships as a direct result of their sensory needs and the frustrations that come alongside these; or because the combination of their difficulties have resulted in school being a challenging place for them to be.
It is imperative that we understand sensory processing and start to consider what provision we can put in place to support the young people that we work with. For more information on sensory processing, sensory integration, sensory modulation and sensory provision, you can access our training on Sensory Processing and Sensory Provision, written and delivered by Occupational Therapist Roz Roscoe. This course also includes information on how we can help children with sensory processing difficulties, including considering their sensory diet and general advice on sensory circuits and calming the nervous system. In addition to this, we have another training written and delivered by Occupational Therapist Roz Roscoe coming soon which is focusing primarily on Sensory Circuits – stay tuned!