Children with Sensory Processing Disorder may end up attending a mainstream school. This could be for many number of reasons including the lack of availability of special schools, not meeting the criteria for special schools or just wanting them to attend a mainstream school. You may want to just send the child who has sensory difficulties to the local mainstream school so that they mix locally with their peers or you may want to consider what they will offer in terms of help and support.
Sensory Processing Disorder and Mainstream School things to consider:
I was really nervous about The Sensory Seeker starting at a mainstream school but actually I think it was the best thing for him. He is now going into year 2 and doing really well. I believe this is down to the support of the school.
- A school that cares..
For me it was very important for me (as well as my child) to know that the school would talk to me before my son attended, to help alleviate any fears. Unfortunately the primary school my other 2 boys were at did not care and said lots of negative things about my child (and my parenting). It was then that I looked for alternatives (for ALL of them).
- A school that understands.
The school that my boys moved to had a good understanding of Sensory Processing disorder and offered suggestions on how they could help. I don’t think the school needs to have previous experience (which they did) but they DO need to listen. I think this is especially important as individuals have different Sensory Diets and therefore will be affected differently.
- A school that supports.
I feel that we have been really lucky and the Head Teacher/SENCO has been really supportive. She works long & hard, knows her stuff, researches what she does not know, asks for our input, is always approachable – and found the money required for full time support as needed for our Sensory Seeker. She even has helped with suggestions to help support him out of school.
Each of the Senses and Problems in Mainstream School
Auditory – how are the classrooms laid out? Is their provision if the child needs extra noise stimulation, or somewhere quiet? Will the teachers shout? How to they handle undesirable behaviour? Will the individual be told off, or just praised for desirable behaviour?
Visual Sense – What are the displays like? Is there too much or not enough stimulation around?
Proprioception & Vestibular Sense – Is there playground equipment? Are there rules? Do the school have any gross motor skills programmes? Will they ensure the child is supported during PE lessons? Does the school have stairs? Will there be additional support with toileting and eating (not stuffing too much food into their mouth so that they choke) and/or getting food all over the place. That the right amount of stimulation is provided so that they do not appear too rough on others.
Tactile – that they have enough input through touch and are given clear rules and guidelines about touching others (without feeling that they are being told off). Help with food (again) to take into account any texture problems as they can be very particular about things touching or the sensations from the food. Help dealing with not getting covered in things (food, paint, mud etc) if a tactile sensory seeker. Also helping to develop peer relationships and explaining why the individual is standing too close/trying to touch/covering themselves in food. Will the school allow the child to bring in sensory aids such as a weighted blanket and/or chewy toy?
Olfactory – Is food cooked on the premises? Are there any other obvious smells? Can the child bring in a hankie or something else with fragrance?
Other Posts you may find of interest:
- Whether or not to send our son to school
- School Considerations when starting with Special Needs
- Way to help those with Sensory Processing Disorder at School
- The Sensory Seeker’s Experience of starting school (from a mother’s perspective)
Obviously I have written this post with my very limited experience of our own Sensory Seeker who seems to be quite mild and coping really well. I would love to hear feedback and suggestions for other parents of children with Sensory Processing Disorder in the comments below. Thank you.
17 thoughts on “Sensory Processing Disorder and Mainstream School”
Good post, really helpful. Two of my boys are on the Autism Spectrum and have sensory needs and difficulties, it was a steep learning curve finding out what worked for each!
Such great questions at the end, they really get you thinking. Mich x
So good to have a good supporting school
wow im amazed at how much support there is available these days , all the very best x
A supportive school environment is important for all children. Our school has been fabulous with Isaac who’s behaviour has been very up and down this year
What a fab resource as always. I think that you have to find the perfect school for your children and it must be really hard
So good that you have found a school that works with you so well. I think that can be a bit of a lottery sometimes.
It’s so important to find a school that”s willing to work with you and understands.
What a fantastic post – so great you found somewhere that works for you x
It’s great that you’re happy with the school and that they’re working well with you 🙂
Great post Joy, with so many helpful tips, I’m so glad your school is so helpful too.
Hello, I am very new to all of this subject. My son is 4 1/2 yrs old, and is very hyper-active to the point where I do think it is of a Hypo-sensitive and Sensory-craving nature. It is far too intense and constant. Many things alongside this are also prevalent such as a phobia to wearing buttons, cutting out labels, tip-toe walking, sleeping issues up until 3 yrs and frequent meltdowns. My question really is to know what help is out there? I read that the nhs doesn’t yet recognise this disorder, we have him down to see the OT soon. Thanks for the blog, online resources like this are a great help.
Hi firstly I am glad that this blog has been of help.
I read The Out of Sync child – and that helped me enormously. I can understand why my son behaves in certain ways which enables me to consider what may help him. Each individual is difference because of the under or over loads for each sense – and how that varies and fluctuate.
My OT was amazing and I got to go to 2 sessions where they answered any questions and showed us lots of equipment that can help.
No it’s not a diagnosed condition but it doesn’t mean that help cannot be accessed. I applied for DLA without a diagnosis and got it for my son. I asked for a statement of educational needs myself when he was in preschool.
If there is any particular area you need help for then if I can’t help then I may know someone who can so please just ask.
This is something we are thinking about when it comes to High school. George has a few sensory issues and these are managed in school with fidget toys, chew cloths at home and soaps and things to smell. When it comes to High school he will have the strong smells in the science lab and other practical classrooms that have never been a problem before.
I am afraid I don’t know much about High School but hopefully a supportive school will help you.
I’ve just wandered upon your page 🙂 My son is 8 and suspect will be diagnosed with ASD. He returned to school in September wearing a baselayer (skin), jogging bottoms, no socks and trainers as everything was crunchy.
He then progressed to wearing a short sleeved shirt and tie over his baser layer. Then no base layer. And now he wears socks and school shoes. Going to try and get him in school trousers after half term so he will be in full uniform.
But every day is a struggle. We have a referral to the OT but can take 18 weeks. School have been fab and even picked him up from home once or twice. They say as long as he is in , it doesn’t matter what he wears. And there does not seem to be any issues from his friends either.
Slow, small steps xxx
I am glad that the school are being helpful. Apart from clothes what other areas are bothering? I am quite new to the subject but may be I could help until you see an OT
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