Many children with sensory processing disorder or related issues can have difficulties in the school setting. Problems can arise anywhere: in the classroom, cafeteria, gymnasium, hallway, playground, and even the bus. Some of these issues can be as subtle as not eating lunch, or as difficult as destroying a classroom.
Knowing what causes these problems and how to prevent them is important for both the school and the child. This is where parents can be the best advocate for their child with Aspergers or HFA and sensory issues.
Preparing a child for school is important, but it is equally important to prepare the school for the child. Sharing their sensory concerns with the teachers, para-professionals, principals, and others is imperative to limiting sensory difficulties in the classroom.
A typical plan should include setting up a sensory-friendly classroom with a place for the student to “get away” if necessary, providing sensory activities throughout the day to help prevent problems that may arise, catering to sensory diets, and preparing the student for changes or surprises that may come up.
A school occupational therapist can help make all of this easier, if they get involved. The occupational therapist can help teachers discover problem areas and learning differences, while providing suggestions to improve success. Some ideas they may implement include setting up lunch bunches to relieve lunchtime stresses, providing sensory activities to use throughout the day that support the student’s ongoing needs, or modifying instruction for classroom success.
Together, the parents, teachers, and occupational therapists can develop a program that is individualized for the student with sensory issues and make this year both successful and rewarding.
For more information on sensory friendly classrooms and teacher resources, go to Future Horizons Inc. There are multiple books and other resources to help the teacher prepare for these students.
By Dr. Gayla A. Aguilar, OTR, OTD
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