Sensory input sprinkled throughout the school day can be really beneficial for some of our students, but it can also be challenging to our classroom management systems. Here area some simple ideas that can be tailored to individual students without disrupting learning for other students.
These ideas are ways to meet sensory needs for students who have already been evaluated and whose needs have already been established. It is important to have a student suspected of sensory regulation issues properly assessed to ensure the added input is appropriate and beneficial.
Vestibular input is all about balance and movement and is centered in the inner ear. Every time we move our heads, fluid moves in these organs and gives us feedback on where we are in space. It helps us with spacial awareness and to maintain our balance.
Some students who need vestibular input benefit from adding air inflated cushions, like the one pictured below, to their chair.
We have a variety of them in our classroom… different textures and levels of inflation. It all plays a part in the input which is why it is important to have a skilled therapist guide and monitor the input.
Another seating option is to have the student sit on a therapy ball like the one picture below.
Seek out advice from your school physical therapist for information on which ball size is appropriate for your student. You want to make sure that the student is still able to sit with his or her feet flat on the floor without straining his or her knees.
The proprioceptive system is located in our muscles and joints. It helps us with body awareness and determines force and pressure of our actions and movements. Just like vestibular input, not everyone reacts the same way to the input, so it is important to have a trained professional determine the student’s needs prior to trying things in the classroom.
Proprioceptive input is important, but doesn’t have to disrupt the whole class. Having a student wear a heavy backpack while he or she transitions between classes and activities is one of the most simple ideas. There is a ratio for determining how much weight goes into the backpack. Be careful not to overload it. Another option would be a weight vest.
More quick and simple ideas:
- Hang from the monkey bars at recess
- Chew big fat bubblegum…. leave it unwrapped for a little bit to make the gum harder for extra input.
- Have students run errands to different parts of the school building while carrying a heavy container.
- Students can do wall push-ups between activities.
- Have students stack and un-stack chairs at the beginning & end of the school day.
- Students can do chair push-ups when needed.
- Add chair bands to the student’s chair so he or she can get input as needed.
These are just SOME ides for you. There are soooo many different ways to help students get the sensory input that they need in order to better regulate their bodies and learn!! Here are some of my favorite books on the subject: