The Importance of Sensory Supports at School
School-based sensory supports are an important part of ensuring success. If your child requires therapeutic responses to sensory triggers, noting these in the IEP may be the key to success. It may not be enough to tell the teachers about these triggers. You may need specific supports in place to help your child.
In some cases, a one-to-one aide may help your child manage his or her reactions to sensory stimuli. You should discuss sensory supports with your IEP team if Sensory Processing Disorder is something your child experiences. It is important to know that Sensory Processing Disorder, on its own, does not qualify for an IEP. However, if your child has an IEP for another reason, you may be able to address their SPD in their plan. Parents can always consider a 504 plan if an IEP is not possible.
What Does it Feel Like to Have Sensory Processing Issues?
Imagine if you worked for eight hours a day with a strobe light flashing and loud music filling the room. To some extent, this gives you a peek into the life of a child with sensory processing issues. It is exhausting to deal with constant sensory trigger that cause discomfort, anxiety or hyperactivity.
How to Integrate Sensory Supports into the School Environment
Your child may require accommodations to get through the school day with more ease and less challenge. Good news! There are several ways your child may receive sensory supports once the school team decides he or she is eligible for services (such as special education) due to learning disabilities.
For example, a student with light sensitivity may be allowed to read quietly and do work in a dimly lit area. A student who is frightened by the sound of noisy children in the hall during transitions may be allowed to switch classrooms on their own a minute after the bell. A learner that becomes hyperactive at the sight and sound of a video clip can have “cool down time” in another room.
Sensory supports are only limited by the creativity of the teaching team, their willingness to provide accommodations, the resources available to provide the supports, and the degree of sensory supports desired. Of course, avoiding the source of “sensory overload” should not be the only way to support learners with these types of sensitivities.
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