The majority of my students have a particular sensory diet that they need to help keep them regulated, but the more students I meet, the more I realise that we all have sensory things that help us concentrate, learn and succeed, these just appear in different formats!
For my daughter (who is currently 6 months old) she needs to explore textures with her body, she needs to be able to roll around and experience the world, which I try to give her opportunities to do!
Some of my students need a break and something active to do midway through a lesson. They may need to leave the room, eat an apple, have a drink, or hide in a blackout tent for a while. Sometimes when a student I am working with is dysregulated I can point them to do one of these things, or I can challenge them to run around a tree outside. Sometimes connection and a sensory need needs to be met, a game of catch is great for this – we can also do it while we learn phonics or maths!
Then there are times when we need something small and mindful to do, so I pull out a 1000-number dot-to-dot, some mindful colouring, diamond art, a model roman empire to make, an electronics project, or some clay to use to make a model about the history project we are doing. While these all meet a sensory need, they also allow us to practise our motor skills, which is very useful too!
There are also times with older students when they just need to get up and stretch, make a cup of coffee, talk about something else for 5 minutes or have a quick wander outside! That is all productive time too, as it allows them to get back to the lesson in a better mindset, more able to learn.
I often work with other professionals that can point the way such as Occupational Therapists and Pyschologists, who can inform how I can meet the needs of my students, but either way, we figure out how to incorporate sensory needs as well as learning, as you can’t have one without the other!
What are your child’s sensory needs and how can they be met during learning?