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Addressing the Sensory Sensitivities of Gifted Students

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Addressing the Sensory Sensitivities of Gifted Students

  1. 1. Sights, Sounds, Smells, & Textures: Addressing the Sensory Sensitivities of the Gifted Child
  2. 2. angelahousand.com
  3. 3. I feel the greatest reward for doing is the opportunity to do more. - Jonas Salk
  4. 4. Overexcitabilities  Characteristics that reveal a heightened response to stimuli  Found more frequently in gifted population than general population  Dabrowski and Piechowski
  5. 5. Overexcitabilities  Psychomotor  Sensual  Intellectual  Imaginational  Emotional
  6. 6. Overexcitabilities  Psychomotor  Sensual  Intellectual  Imaginational  Emotional
  7. 7. Sensual Overexcitability  Heightened awareness of sensual pleasure or displeasure  Increased appreciation of aesthetic pleasures  Overstimulated by sensory input Sight Aesthetics Smell Odors Touch Tactile Experience Taste Flavors Hearing Sound
  8. 8. Sensual Overexcitability  When overstimulated, some increase stimulation  Seek the center of attention  Go on shopping spree  Listen to loud music  Others withdraw from stimulation  Seek privacy  Quiet contemplation  Soothing music or nature sounds
  9. 9.  People with SOR respond to sensation faster, with more intensity, or for a longer duration than those with typical sensory responsivity  Considered a Sensory Modulation Disorder by some
  10. 10.  Behavioral responses ◦ Impulsivity ◦ Aggression ◦ Withdrawal ◦ Avoidance of sensation  Emotional Responses ◦ Irritability ◦ Moodiness ◦ Inconsolability ◦ Poor Socialization
  11. 11. CNS Arousal • CNS responsible for controlling and regulating autonomic responses • Operates from rest state (neutral) – Excitation – Inhibition
  12. 12. CNS Arousal • Necessary for all cognitive function and all emotional expression • Must happen first in any behavioral response • Its occurrence leads to every other aspect of behavior
  13. 13. Neurological Thresholds • Amount of stimuli required for a nervous system response • Children whose thresholds are too low are likely to be overly responsive to stimuli or hypersensitive to their world
  14. 14. Neurological Threshold Continuum Habituation Sensitization
  15. 15. Sensory Modulation  Occurs as the central nervous system (CNS) regulates the neural messages about stimuli  Brain processes information from CNS to maintain homeostasis and produce adaptive response  If a student is having trouble with Sensory Modulation, they may be interpreting their environment uniquely
  16. 16. Sensory Sensitivity • Greater CNS Arousal – Show greater responsiveness to sensory stimuli in all sensory modalities – Emits more voluntary motor activity – More reactive emotionally • Might also explain psychomotor and emotional overexcitability
  17. 17. Characteristics of People with High Sensory Sensitivity • Sense of being different • Need to take frequent breaks during busy days • Conscious arrangement of lives to reduce stimulation & unwanted surprise
  18. 18. Characteristics of People with High Sensory Sensitivity • Acknowledge importance of spiritual and inner lives (including dreams) • Sense that difficulties stemmed from fear of failure due to overarousal – While being observed – Feeling judged – During competition
  19. 19. Sensory Sensitivity of Gifted • Tested gifted vs. normed sample on the Sensory Profile (Dunn, 1999) • Significant differences on 12 of 14 sensory sections between groups • Gifted children are more sensitive to their physical environment • More affected by sensory stimuli
  20. 20. Why address sensory sensitivity? • Sensory stimuli create CNS arousal which places demands upon the body • The intensity and duration of arousal affect responses to stimuli • Maximum and prolonged overload of information can be stressful
  21. 21. Why address sensory sensitivity? • To reduce stressors • To positively enhance the experience of the highly sensitive gifted individual • To be responsive to unique needs • To promote healthy working environments • To increase the sustainability of focus and effort in productive endeavors
  22. 22. Offensive Stimuli • Loud or sudden noises • Strong odors – Molds – Perfumes • Rough textures or fabrics – Clothing tags • Sharp edges – Angular furniture Someone Has Soiled the Air!
  23. 23. Offensive Stimuli • Visual overload – Certain color saturation and hue – Manmade materials – Unorganized space – Low ceilings • Bright Light – Glare – Fluorescent lighting
  24. 24. Great for some students…
  25. 25. Organized, Natural Materials…
  26. 26. Organized and with Views…
  27. 27. Organized, High Ceilings… Ceiling height is ranked among top 3 architectural details that influence psychological well being.
  28. 28. • A controlled color vocabulary is essential in creating a sense of place • Low screeners perform better in blue work spaces • Feelings of emotional control are stronger in monochromatic spaces than in vibrant colorful spaces • Mean blood pressure readings 9% lower than white classroom
  29. 29. White was rejected…
  30. 30. Provide a Cohesive Color Palette
  31. 31. Color: Red Hue • Workers in red offices reported more feelings of dysphoria than workers in blue offices • More confusion and tension reported • Lower performance for low screeners
  32. 32. Brightness Increased Performance
  33. 33. So many things right…
  34. 34. No Windows? Full Spectrum Lighting
  35. 35. Variety of Light Sources To Meet a Variety of Needs
  36. 36. Both Well-Lit and Dimly-Lit Notice the use of natural materials...
  37. 37. Dimmer Switches… …an inexpensive alternative
  38. 38. Glare Reduction with Visual Access
  39. 39. • Increase Cognitive Control • Reduce Hostility, Aggression, and Violence • Assist in Recovery from Mental Fatigue Brief Interactions with Nature
  40. 40. Indoor Gardens…
  41. 41. Something is Better than Nothing
  42. 42. …and if there is no beautiful courtyard, GET CREATIVE!
  43. 43. Bring natural materials in using furniture
  44. 44. Natural Materials and Privacy…
  45. 45. Privacy gives opportunity for… Retreat, Reflection, and Relaxation
  46. 46. The opportunity for recovery when one becomes overstimulated by environment
  47. 47. It does not have to be elaborate…
  48. 48. As simple as a quiet corner…
  49. 49. Rugs and Fabric Wall Art Reduce Noise
  50. 50. Carpet, Soft Wall, and Natural Light
  51. 51. Ahh, the sound of lockers…
  52. 52. Consider alternatives for personal storage…
  53. 53. Avoid Sharp Edges…
  54. 54. Sharp Edges Activate the Amygdala …the part of the brain that registers threat
  55. 55. Which do you prefer?
  56. 56. So many things right…
  57. 57. Do you love coffee? Consider a breath mint. Someone Has Soiled the Air!
  58. 58. Avoid Perfume and Fragrant Lotion
  59. 59. Low VOC Paint
  60. 60. The Industrial Age Classroom…
  61. 61. Comfortable & Flexible Seating… 75% of total body weight is supported on only 4 in2 when humans sit up straight in a hard chair.
  62. 62. Functional Example: Comfortable…
  63. 63. …and Mobile
  64. 64. Flexibility is Important…
  65. 65. If everything has wheels…
  66. 66. …the classroom becomes a dynamic and interactive work environment.
  67. 67. Technology in Students’ Hands Empowers students to feel more in control.
  68. 68. Honor Diversity of Style Allow students to participate in classroom design Help students define organizational structures that suit their needs Allow trial and error: Have patience to give ideas a fair chance
  69. 69. The Goal: Balanced Sensory Integration A dynamic integration in how the brain processes sensation producing balanced reactions in motor, behavior, emotion, and attention responses
  70. 70. Thank You!

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