There is much evidence supporting the use of classroom-based adaptations and whole school approaches to promote the inclusion of all children and young people with sensory differences within our schools (Wild, Gwen, Steeley and Sherry 2018).
Environmental modifications and adapting teaching and learning approaches enables all children to better manage their sensory differences within the class, alongside developing supportive systems to better regulate their sensory needs.
A whole school approach promotes inclusion, enables each child to better explore their sensory preferences and develop more efficient self-regulatory skills as they mature into more independent learners. Guidance on sensory differences published by the Council for Disabled Children advocates the need for a multi-pronged approach when supporting sensory needs. This approach modifies the environment and adapts the task appropriately, while supporting the child’s specific sensory need within the classroom context.
Whole school approaches
- Advocate flexible teaching and learning such as taking account of auditory, kinaesthetic and visual learning styles.
- Provide safe, quiet, comfortable and calm areas to be always available. This includes, playtimes, periods of change and times of reduced routine, for example at Christmas.
- Create a whole school ethos promoting such activities as: Smart Moves, Wake and Shake, finger gym exercise sessions, yoga and movement breaks.
- Encourage extended out of hours activities, including those that are not always competitive, such as drama club, martial arts and dance.
- Celebrate different recording/learning styles through school displays and ICT.
- Increase awareness of sensory processing difficulties among all staff, through training sessions provided by the Occupational Therapy or Educational Psychology teams. Make sure that there are information sharing systems among staff.