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SEND ‘Tip of the Month’ May 2021

SEND ‘Tip of the Month’ May 2021


Roa Dillon
Roa Dillon
SEND ‘Tip of the Month’ May 2021

Why do sensory behaviours happen?

Imagine each of the 5 senses has a cup. Some cups are tiny, some are large. The student’s main focus is keeping each cup full, without having it overflow or empty too quickly. If a student has a small cup in one sense, they become overwhelmed with even a tiny amount of input because the cup fills so quickly. At the same time, they may have other cups that are huge and need constant input. When this happens, the student becomes consumed by the need to fill their cup and may have a hard time following directions, sleeping, or even communicating because their mental energy is focused on the immediate physical need.

Imagine that all of the cups are actually connected. When one or more cups are too full or too empty, it affects the rest of the cups, and it throws the rest of the system out of balance. We call this dysregulation, because the sensory system is disorganised.

Sensory processing is a constant balance between regulation and dysregulation. Our ultimate goal is to identify dysregulation and achieve regulation as much as possible. For the student to be regulated, they need the opportunity and experience of participating in sensory activities that help them empty or fill their cups. Providing them with these opportunities is how WE can support their sensory needs.

What NOT to do when a student is dysregulated:

  1. Reacting to the behavior (punishment like timeout).
  2. Ignoring the dysregulation because we don’t know how to help with it.
  3. Forcing the student into facing their aversion thinking they will eventually learn how to deal with it (like pushing them into an activity thinking that they will see it is just fine).
  4. Creating rigid sensory routines and activities to try to fix the effects of dysregulation.

Successful strategies to consider:

  1. Giving the students a physical job around the classroom – giving out heavy books or let them sit in your chair for 5 minutes
  2. Movement breaks – let your student take a 5 minute walk outside the classroom or deliver a message for you
  3. Fiddle toys – We have a range of fiddle toys in Learning Support – please do ask!
  4. Physical classroom environment – look at your lighting, are the windows open? Is there enough light or too much? such a simple fix can help a student so much!

Thought for the day:

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