School and the sensitive child
Posted: 13 May, 2016
By: Annabella Sequeira
Doors CRASHING, ear splitting SCREAMS, wind HOWLING, BLINDING lights, alarms BLARING, people CRASHING in to you… This is how someone might describe an emergency evacuation or a disaster scene in a movie.
Imagine if this is what an average day at school feels like. This is often the case for children who are sensitive to sound, light, touch or movement information from the environment.
It will come as no surprise then, that these children find everyday experiences overwhelming and find it difficult to manage their responses to the perceived assault of incoming information. They are not in a space to learn or get the most out of their environment as their bodies and brains may feel like they are under attack.
Teacher tools to facilitate sensitive children
- Create quiet spaces available for these children to recuperate and self-regulate
- Incorporate physical work into the daily routine
- Encourage children to help move desks or furniture around the class
- Carry heavy books to hand out
- Clean the board or put chairs up on tables
- Chair push ups
- Consider reducing the amount of distracting/colourful work up on the boards or walls
- Encourage movement games and swinging activities during break times
- Stress balls or fidget toys might help sensitive children self regulate
- Take not of the tone and level of your voice when giving instructions
- Try to reduce background noise and possibly incorporate calming classical music during desk activities
- Use natural light as much as possible
- Encourage parents to create sensory experiences within the home environment
Written by Nicole Kayton, who holds a BSc in Occupational Therapy from the University of the Witwatersrand. She is passionate about working with children and assisting them to reach their potential.