What is Sensory Sensitivity?


Does your child have a sensory disorder? Often times, students with disabilities suffer from sensory sensitivity, which makes functioning in a school setting very difficult.


Kids with sensory issues have abnormally strong or weak reactions to their five senses: sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell. Common smells, noises, textures, sights, and/or tastes can cause intense reactions.


Defining a Sensory Disorder


In the medical community, sensory sensitivity is called Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). This kind of disorder can lead to a child having difficult life experiences with people, settings, and objects. A sensory disorder can make it harder to form positive relationships with people and establish community.


This is a neurological disorder, which means that it cannot be ‘cured,’ so to speak. However, physical responses to sensory triggers can be managed. In addition to coping strategies, children can also improve with regular occupational therapy.  

Sensory Disorder

The Impact of Sensory Sensitivity in School


Students with a sensory disorder often encounter difficulties at school. These issues, if not addressed, can lead to… 


  • inappropriate focus on tasks (too much or too little attention)
  • compulsion to complete nonfunctional routines
  • decreased motivation to follow directions and rules


These events can trigger low self-esteem, anxiety, behavior issues, and negative feelings about school. School personnel may react in the wrong way. They may increase disciplinary actions, avoid the student, and form negative thoughts towards the student. 


This happens most often when educators don’t understand the sensory disorder or don’t know that a child has it. Creating sensory supports in the classroom environment could be a huge help to a child with SPD.


If your child has been diagnosed with a sensory disorder, incorporating treatment of these may become part of your IEP. Discuss this with your IEP team, 504 team or general education teachers to see how to integrate SPD treatments into your child’s plan.


What Do I Do Next?


A sensory disorder doesn’t mean your child can’t succeed in school. Learn what supports and goals are right for your unique child with ExceptionALLY




We help parents who are frustrated with schools and the world of special education.


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