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Sensory Processing Handbook


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AllSpecialED community members put their heads and ideas together to create this awesome handbook of resources, and strategies to help children with sensory learning challenges. Check it out and join in the discussion @

Sensory Processing Handbook

  1. 1. Table of Contents Introduction 3 Acknowledgements 4 Disclaimer 5 What is Sensory Integration? 6 Helpful Handouts 7 Books and Resources 11 Web Resources 15 Sensory Related Strategies and Materials 17 A Final Thought 23 2
  2. 2. Introduction Our senses, auditory, tactile, vision, olfactory, taste, proprioception, and vestibular, provide us with vital information about the world and ourselves. How we organize, process, and interpret sensory experiences affects how we adjust our behavior to navigate through our environment. For many of us there is no doubting the wonderful feeling of fresh sheets after a shower, or the discomfort of chewing a popcorn kernel, but what happens when everyday experiences cause discomfort, anxiety, or pain. When sensory challenges begin to limit learning possibilities, social interactions, and/or the ability to access spaces and materials, it is time to question sensory input, and ways to alleviate these difficulties. Through AllSpecialED’s Discussion Event and the development of this e-book, we sought to learn about the efficacy of Sensory Integration (SI) and sensory desensitization intervention strategies to assist in the regulation of sensory processing disorders. We all want children to be balanced, organized, and regulated so they can feel successful and access everything the world has to offer. It through collaborative projects like the AllSpecialED sensory guide, we have the opportunity to grow together with same goal: finding approaches that make a difference for kids. Sincerely Yours, Joy & Colleen 3
  3. 3. Acknowledgments A very special thanks to Dr. Teresa May Benson,directorof the Spiral Foundation and OTA TheKoomar Center for opening up their clinic to the AllSpecialED community. Everyone had such a wonderful learning experience and was awed by their new state of the art Sensory Integration clinic. We would also like the thank Elizabeth Goranson from Stretch What Matters™ for providing an excellent introduction to her innovative mindfulness approach, integrating yoga for children with regulation challenges, and for donating a copy of her Stretch What Matters™ Yoga System. Leah Kuypers, author of The Zones of Regulation was kind enough to raffle a copy of her book for the AllSpecialED Community and we are thrilled to share it with all of you! Both Dr. Benson’s and Elizabeth’s passion and knowledge regarding treatment and educational practices for students with sensory and regulation challenges has motivatedus all to dig a little deeper and to continue to provide best practice for our kids Thank you to all of the AllSpecialED members who are contributing authors to this eBook: Dr. Teresa May Benson Wendy Drobnyk Julie Leah Kuypers Elizabeth Goranson Ruth Morgan chapel hill snippets Elyse Zehdean Jenn Denise Elyse Penny Cate Thank you to everyone who came to our Discussion Events. Be on the lookout for future topics coming soon! To read more about the event, please click HERE! 4
  4. 4. Disclaimer This eBook is intended for educational purposes only. AllSpecialED does not receive any monetary gain from the distribution of this eBook. The ideas and materials presented in this eBook originate from members of the AllSpecialED community. AllSpecialED is not responsible for copyright infringements. By contributing to this eBook, members have verified one the following: ● the ideas and materials are original work, ● the original author has provided written consent to share materials, ● Members have provided appropriate citations for adapted content. You may download the content for scientific or educational uses. You may not sell, reproduce, transmit, distribute, perform or display such content for any commercial purpose without the express consent of AllSpecialED. 5
  5. 5. What is Sensory Integration? Please see Dr. Teresa May Benson’s full PowerPoint presentation for an overview of Sensory Integration HERE! And please refer to the Spiral Foundation for boatload of resources including facts sheets and newsletters 6
  6. 6. Helpful Handouts Sensory Chart: Wendy Drobnyk OTR/L shared this helpful Sensory Chart to help therapists determine an appropriate sensory protocol for their students. Here are two examples: Full Page Version Here: 7
  7. 7. Julie R shared: The "Humpty Dumpty" nursery rhyme is a visual representation of the three times we may intervene during an emotional breakdown. For example, if we are lucky enough to know the antecedent(s) that cause behavior(s) we may intervene 1. Before the fact (take away the wall). If we are not so lucky, we may only intervene 2. During the fact (just as Humpty starts to teeter) or 3. After the fact (when Humpty is broken). Our goal is to identify antecedents, behaviors and consequences to better understand WHY behaviors are happening and WHAT the student is trying to communicate. Once we understand WHY behaviors are occurring and WHAT the student is communicating we can teach more appropriate or expected behaviors. The attached chart (ABC chart) can be used to track behaviors you want to diminish: Terminology: Antecedents- events that happen before a behavior. Including: time of day, setting, people present, activity, directions, choices, actions... Consequences- events that happen after a behavior, often not the deliberately chosen "consequence" by adults. Including: change of setting or people, change of demands, verbal/physical actions... Here are some helpful hints for dealing with behaviors: -Know the student. Take their perspective. Think like they think! -Teach alternative/appropriate behaviors -Establish rules, expectations, rewards and consequences 8
  8. 8. -Don't make a rule/consequence that you cannot be consistent with -Follow through -Tell the student what you want them to do rather than what you don't what him/her to do -Pick your battles (ignore) -Keep calm -Catch em' being good! -Model appropriate/expected behaviors -Don't nag -Be present/talk less -Give non-punitive breaks -Allow movement if needed -3 R's (reinforce concretely, remind neutrally, redirect non-judgmentally) -Meet sensory needs -Don't ask a yes/no question unless the student can say "no" (e.g., Do you want to go to Math now?) -Use schedules and timers For the full-page version click HERE! 9
  9. 9. Ruth Morgan shared: Here's a scale that many people have downloaded from my blog, Chapel Hill Snippets. I use it at school and it's helpful for children to foster self-regulation and emotional control. If you own Boardmaker, you can edit, otherwise download as pdf. 10
  10. 10. Books and Resources Per Leah Kuypers, the Zones is a systematic, cognitive behavior approach used to teach self-regulation by categorizing all the different ways we feel and states of alertness we experience into four concrete zones. The Zones curriculum provides strategies to teach students to become more aware of, and independent in, controlling their emotions and impulses, managing their sensory needs, and improving their ability to problem solve conflicts. Check out the full specs HERE! Zehdean, an occupational Therapist from Cambridge MA recommends: 101 Games and Activities for Children with Autism, Asperger's and Sensory Processing Disorder by Tara Delaney 11
  11. 11. It does not have the background regarding sensory processing that many of the other books have, but it has lots of great ideas (for when you are not feeling so creative!). I also like Raising a Sensory Smart Child by Lindsey Biel and Nancy Peske. Raising a Sensory Smart Child: The Definitive Handbook for Helping Your Child with Sensory Processing Issues: Lindsey Biel, Nancy Peske: Books I think that this is a great book to share with parents and new therapists. For kids, I like Arnie and his School Tools by Jennifer Veenendall. Arnie and His School Tools: Simple Sensory Solutions That Build Success: Jennifer Veenendall - Arnie and His School Tools is a delightful and one-of-akind book that helps others 'walk a mile in the shoes' of a child with sensory processing d 12
  12. 12. I read this with a student this year and we stopped at each page to see if my student thought he felt the same/different as Arnie. There are several other books for kids but I haven't read them yet! Joy read a good book last year as way to familiarize my self with sensory issues and children with Asperger Syndrome. It is an easy read and provides a great introduction for these types of kids. The author offers resources for further reading, as theory and research are not the primary focus. There is a wonderful table toward the end of the book, which breaks down sensory issues into categories (i.e. olfactory, vestibular, gustatory) and provides example accommodations/intervention strategies for educators to try with students. It would copy well for handouts to give to teachers or bring to consult/team meetings. Sensory assessments are discussed and a case study at the end puts the pieces together for the reader to see how a treatment plan is created. If you are interested in learning more about Sensory Issues and children with Asperger Syndrome this is a great book. It does not go deep into the background, explain Sensory Integration treatment, or the various types of kids who can present with sensory processing issues. Click HERE! Elyse had purchased Jean Ayres book on Sensory Integration many years ago when her research was first discussed. This book is a classic, which has been updated, and I still think it is a great resource for families and clinicians. You can purchase it on Sensory Integration and the Child. Another great book is The Out-of-Sync Child: Recognizing and Coping with Sensory Processing Disorder by Kranowitz. Also available on Some items I like to keep handy in my office include Koosh balls and nubby balls as fidget items for kids who are touching everything in sight and looking for 13
  13. 13. sensory input. These items also work well to facilitate focus for kids who have attentional issues. My arsenal includes wooden fidget puzzles, beaded bracelets, silly bands, squishy balls, Beanie Babies, bendable figures and handheld beanbags. Jenn a likes: 14
  14. 14. Web Resources Denise shared: I recently came across this website full of fabulous suggestions for children with sensory processing disorders. Here is the link to the website. S.E.N.S.E. - A Sensory Life...Three Steps for Sensory Success! Here is just of the great suggestions you can find on the website: S.E.N.S.E. © Making SENSE out of the situation! Use this very simple strategy to help understand and address any and every challenging moment and when the question comes to your this sensory or behavior? How can I help my child? S. Stop, assess the situation, do not assume it is "behavior" E. Environment change N. Note the child's response to the environment change S. Sensory strategies and tools E. Embrace the positive and learn from the moment The website is full of PDF handouts for parents, teachers, and community. At the moment, top billing is getting a child ready to return to school. Penny says: For an in depth understanding of sensory processing as related to reflex suppression and how critical it is to address both together, you can go to: Svetlana Masgutova Educational Institute - About Us 15
  15. 15. Another great resource is Athena Oden's website: 16
  16. 16. Sensory Related Strategies and Approaches Check out!The Stretch What Matters™ Yoga System is designed to bring the joy of yoga to every individual, allowing maximum benefits with minimal frustration. With the color-coded mat and accompanying instructional aides, Stretch What Matters™ Yoga System is like having a yoga instructor right there with you! Elizabeth Goranson, M.S.Ed, Founder and inventor of Stretch What Matters™, has more than a decade of experience in combining yoga with an educational environment, enabling students of ALL abilities to independently identify, manage and prevent stress. From Joy’s toolbox: Some items I like to keep handy in my office include Koosh balls and nubby balls as fidget items for kids who are touching everything in sight and looking for sensory input. These items also work well to facilitate focus for kids who have attentional issues. My arsenal includes wooden fidget puzzles, beaded bracelets, silly bands, squishy balls, Beanie Babies, bendable figures and handheld beanbags. I also purchased these Grab-N-Balls for this year and the kids absolutely love them. They are little pricey ($39.99 for 6) but are durable and will last a long time. I have lent them to classrooms for students who need them across the day. 17
  17. 17. In addition, I haven’t used these but hear Wikki Stix are great for $7.00 a pack on Amazon. From Julie’s toolbox: A strategy that is good for students who walk around a lot/kick while seated is to tie a thera bands (used for exercising) around the front legs of a chair. The student can sit in their chair and get resistance from the band. Additionally, the band is easily removed from the chair and can be sent to other locations with the child. 18
  18. 18. From Jenn’s Toolbox: Glowing Sensory Bags Glowing Sensory Bag Play ~ Growing A Jeweled Rose Frozen Water Beads Frozen Water Beads- Fun Sensory Play ~ Growing A Jeweled Rose 19
  19. 19. Sensory Balloons Sensory Smells 20
  20. 20. From Cate’s toolbox: Tactile input for students to promote "ready" hands One sensory material that I have found somewhat useful for discouraging handto-mouth behaviors and promoting "ready" hands is a small square (1ft x 1 ft or so) of artificial grass turf. I usually clamp it to the student's desktop for periods of about 10-15 minutes and redirect the student away from his/her mouth: "If you're looking for something to do with your hands, try exploring what's on your desk!" It seems to help students to focus on the activity at hand, but as always, it's important to change it up so students to get too used to it! One of my students who often is very busy seemed to relax when he explored it with his bare feet, too! Our day is always full of surprises. I found some at Home Depot...I had to buy a long strip of it and cut it myself but it was only about $15 for a decent amount! From Colleen’s toolbox: One of the teaching assistants at my school recently came up with a very unique idea for dissuading hand-to-mouth behaviors. It has been working well for one of our students, and is definitely worth sharing!! The teaching assistantloosely tied mylar sheets to the student’s wrists, letting the end of the mylar extend the length of the student's hand. They make flashy fun wristbands, and serve as a reminder to the student of the fun sensory experiences s/he can have with their hands that doesn't include putting them in his/her mouth. 21
  21. 21. A Final Thought Stay Inspired SpedStars “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched - they must be felt with the heart.” Helen Keller ASE members: Rena Sikarova, Jami Simmons, & Colleen Sheehy-Davidson dressed up for Halloween as Sensory Boards 22