Sensory-Regulation Understanding & Supporting Students with Sensory & Movement Differences Mya Horn P.T. Donna Miller, O.T. & Erica Gorzalski, O.T. Kelly Hettich, C.O.T.A. & Kathy Tucker, C.O.T.A
Different activities, materials, and experiences offered throughout the school day to help maintain the student at an appropriate energy level Sensory Regulation …
Sensory regulation is not something that happens in isolation. Sensory activities need to be integrated throughout the day.
Integrated classroom strategies
Structured scheduled breaks
Activities should be scheduled pro-actively & done prior to escalation of behavior. Regulation activities should not be taken away or be made contingent on good behavior! They are necessary activities to help maintain arousal for functional activities to take place.
State of readiness of the nervous
system to respond to the environment
Indicators of arousal level can be skin tone,
respiration, heart rate, emotional state,
tone/rate of voice
When helping children identify their current
label the behavior, not the cause
Arousal Level How Alert One Feels?
High Just Right Low How is your Engine running?
Tactile Vestibular Proprioceptive Visual Auditory Olfactory Taste Sensory Systems
Questions? 1. Is the person over-responsive or under-responsive? In what situations? 2. Does the person respond negatively or extremely to sensory input? 3. What is the person able to filter out? Sensory-Regulation
Behaviors : unresponsive/unaware, puts everything in mouth, chews on pencil, avoids sensory materials and food textures, pulls away
Strategies: deep pressure, prepare child for organized touch, vestibular strategies, brain gym
Classroom Modifications: hideouts (tent), provide personal boundaries (carpet square, bean bag, cube chair, armed chair/wheelchair), velcro, putty, modeling clay, leave class early
Behaviors : difficulty staying in seat, craves or fears movement, silly, difficulty re-entering class after movement (ie: recess or P.E.), vomiting
Strategies: structured movement activities, heavy work activities (deliver notes, pass papers), brain gym, encourage swinging and climbing activities at recess
Classroom Modifications: variety of work positions (ie: standing, kneeling, on tummy), seat cushion, rocking chair, dycem on chair
Behaviors : difficulty staying in seat and/or maintaining posture, clumsy, difficulty initiating tasks, poor tool use, touching wall when walking
Strategies: heavy work activities (carrying, pushing objects), isometric seat exercises (visual desk strip), weighted vest/lap pad/backpack/sweat band, sensory input to hands prior to fine motor activities (rice, beans, play-doh, spider push ups, finger squeezes), deep pressure, blowing/sucking activities, chewing gum/coffee stirrers, yoga poses, water bottle
Classroom Modifications: variety of work positions (ie: standing, kneeling, on tummy), seat cushion, straddling chair
Strategies: decrease visual input with hat or sunglasses, provide predictable visual input
Classroom Modifications: less visual stimulation, hide outs, dim lights or natural light, use slant board/easel, color overlays or worksheets on colored paper
Behaviors: Difficulty following verbal directions, delayed response to directions, tunes out in noisy environments, excessive noises/talking, distracted by noises, emotional outburst with unpredictable sounds or loud environments
Strategies: Limit talking while providing visual pictures or hand signs, headphones, allow processing time, use demonstrations, allow breaks or work in a quiet environment
Classroom: Seat child away from obvious auditory distractions, have quiet area in the room
Olfactory and Taste
Behaviors: behaviors correlating with odors (distractibility, change in activity level, disorganization), limited foot repertoire, smells or tastes everything including edibles and non-edibles), vomiting/gagging
Strategies: Entice child slowly to experience a variety of foods/smells, provide appropriate oral motor items to chew
Classroom Modifications: Seat child near open door or fan, limit perfumes and lotions, remove from irritating environments
EVERYONE can benefit from sensory strategies!
The goal of the supportive activities is to maintain appropriate arousal level to allow students to participate in their classroom activities
When current strategies are not successful, the frequency or type of activities should be re-evaluated
As children grow, they often gain the ability to self-regulate (both sensory and emotionally) with more independence
Visual information is KEY!
Helps to lend a sense of predictability to a student ’ s day
Describe regular events or those that are changing
Determine the most effective type of visual cue for the student (real objects, real pictures, picture symbols, simple phrases)
Helpful visual support for students who have difficulty with periods of free time
Helpful to provide structured choices during periods of distress
Firm, deep pressure touch
Alternative work positions
Communication (simplify language, gestures, pause)
Social Stories (short verbal scripts for frequently occurring cues or situations)
Slow down the interaction/ attempt to “ match ” the student ’ s speed of interaction
Be prepared, have a plan!!
Be observant!! Learn the subtle cues of a “ build up ” that a child is giving you
Less is more… talk less to students and other staff.