A child with Sensory Processing Disorder may experience school life differently to their peers. The main thing I find is to let them know, with as much warning as possible, exactly what is going to happen – for example I will drop him off tomorrow at the same time as his brother, person X will look after him, and child B will be in his class, that he will come home with me to have lunch at home. Also when talking about this, showing him visually as much as possible. We have a book with photos of the school, his teachers, and his 1:1 support (both in lessons and dinner times) – so I can refer to as we talk about it. That I only give him bits of information at a time, and don’t go too far into the future, or over complicate things. I do keep things as routinely as possible – like we have rules about eating breakfast when we wake up, and the television doesn’t go on until everyone is ready. That we take the same daily route to school.
Problems that may occur:
When lining up they may become over responsive in the tactile sense, getting too close, or feeling that others are too close. They might not like the noise, or the noise may appeal and stimulate them. You can avoid any situations that may arise from this by allowing the child to be at the front or the back of the line – giving them a 50% less chance of being bumped/stimulated. Personally, I think you should go for the back as, in my experience, every child wants to be first and so by allowing someone to always go first may cause a social divide with their peers. You may wish to purchase a fidget toy – or a chewy toy that could also help with any oral issues too. If it is more severe you could try compression clothing and/or earplugs. It is important to make sure the other children are aware of the needs of the sensory processing child.
The child may keep tapping the hands/feet, as it provides proprioceptive input to the arms/legs – (with the feet – vestibular system too). Ideas to help are allow a ball chair; Wrap theraband around the leg of the chair; again a fidget toy/oral sensory tool, or vibrating toy or pillow. Engage in 15 mins proprioceptive play prior to tasks. Allow to stand to do work, or stand on a balance board or bosu ball.
They may not like it when others are talking or laughing and ask them to stop. This is likely due to a difficult in auditory processing; involving various frequencies in sound pitch and tone changes. Ideas are to let the child leave the room; give them an MP3 player; provide a sensory retreat; give them a bear hug, or deep pressure. Do not insist on eye contact.
He is also hyper-mobile in his hands (or something) – which means he is more flexible than he should be, and has trouble holding a pencil. So I have got him some with the rubber ends to help with his grip.
I find him riding his bike to school (well worked with playgroup) helps, and allowing him to go for a good bounce on the trampoline at the end of the day. If anyone else has any tips about helping with school I would love to hear them in the comments box below.
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