My Sensory Seeking Child needs calming and focus for school – How do I do this?
By Desiree Frigenti – Senior Paediatric Physiotherapist & Director of Ocean Kids Health.
Hello to all our amazing families. Time to address another tricky question!
For a sensory-seeking child who needs calming and focus in school, there are several strategies and techniques that can be helpful. It’s important to note that every child is unique, so you may need to experiment and find what works best for your child.
Here are my top 10 suggestions:
- Sensory Breaks: Allow your child to take short breaks throughout the day to engage in sensory activities that help them calm down and focus. This could include activities such as deep pressure exercises, jumping on a trampoline, squeezing a stress ball, or using a sensory toy.
- Seating Options: Provide your child with alternative seating options that promote focus and calmness. Options like a wobble cushion, exercise ball, or a weighted lap pad can provide sensory input and help your child stay engaged.
- Visual Supports: Use visual aids and schedules to help your child understand the daily routine and expectations. Visual schedules can provide a sense of structure and reduce anxiety. You can also use visual cues to indicate when it’s time for a sensory break or a specific task.
- Deep Pressure and Proprioceptive Input: Incorporate activities that provide deep pressure and proprioceptive input, which can have a calming effect. These activities include activities such as pushing or pulling heavy objects, carrying weighted backpacks, or using compression clothing.
- Fidget Tools: Allow your child to use fidget tools discreetly during class to help them maintain focus. Items like stress balls, fidget spinners, or textured objects can provide sensory input and help redirect restless energy.
- Sensory Diet: Work with a Physiotherapist/ Occupational Therapist to develop a sensory diet tailored to your child’s needs. A sensory diet is a personalized plan that incorporates specific sensory activities throughout the day to help regulate sensory input.
- Quiet Corner or Safe Space: Create a designated quiet corner or safe space in the classroom where your child can go to take a break when feeling overwhelmed or overstimulated. This area should be a calm and quiet space with sensory tools, such as soft cushions or noise-cancelling headphones.
- Consistent Routine: Establish a consistent daily routine for your child, as predictable schedules can provide a sense of security and help reduce anxiety.
- Environmental Modifications: Make adjustments to the classroom environment to minimize sensory distractions. This may include reducing bright lighting, providing noise-cancelling headphones, or using visual barriers to create a more focused workspace.
- Physical Activity: Prioritize regular physical activity before or during the school day. Exercise can help release excess energy and improve focus. Consider incorporating movement breaks or outdoor playtime into the daily schedule.
Remember to chat regularly with your child’s teachers and school staff to create a supportive environment that accommodates your child’s sensory needs. They can provide valuable insights and support in implementing these strategies effectively. Additionally, consulting with a Paediatric Physiotherapist, Paediatric Exercise Physiologist or Occupational Therapist can provide further guidance tailored to your child’s specific needs.
‘Just passionate about everything sensory’