What is it?
Sensory processing disorder is a condition in which the brain has trouble receiving, responding and processing everyday information that comes in through the senses. Our senses give us the information we need to function; hearing, taste, touch, sight and smell. With sensory processing disorder sensory signals don’t get organised into appropriate responses. This means they may feel sensory input more or less than other people.
How might it look?
What support do we offer?
Sandside Lodge School offers a range of strategies and resources to students and staff in order for them to regulate and be in the best place emotionally and physically to access learning.
Our intention is to support and enable students to recognise their own sensory needs and be able to manage them successfully. Providing our students with a sensory lifestyle to help them regulate themselves, will in turn enable them to access learning in a calm and focused manner
Staff use observation, knowledge and understanding to identify individual sensory processing needs from which a range of strategies is developed, sometimes using specific equipment.
Sensory based strategies used at Sandside Lodge School (SLS) include;
- Gentle hands.
- Sensory regulation – to access equipment (see below).
- Attachment sessions.
- Wellbeing sessions.
- Reassuring touch.
- Rebound therapy.
- Aquatic Therapy.
- Calming room.
- Ready to learn.
- Dogs for Development.
- Tai Chi.
Sensory based equipment at SLS includes;
- Outside – swings, bikes, scooters, roundabout, open space.
- Sensory Movement and Regulation room (includes, jump and bounce platform, steam roller ramp, taco swing, disk swing, platform swing)
- Peanut ball.
- Body sock.
- Zuma chairs.
- Sensory Chews.
- Soft play room.
- Staff bum bags – to carry resources for work with specific individuals.
- Weighted blankets.
- Cushions and bean bags.
- Scooter boards.
- Climbing frames.
- Moulded cushions.
- Sound bowl (yoga).
- Breathing cards.
- Chill Skills.
- Experience room and MILE
Sensory Movement and Regulation room
We use the sensory movement and regulation room as part of a student’s sensory diet. When a student has difficulties processing sensory information they may have difficulty with their proprioception, vestibular and touch senses. The sensory movement and regulation room has equipment that students can use to regulate these senses and be ready to learn. Students have an individual program specific to their needs and staff are trained to use the equipment with students effectively. Each students individual program has an Intent, Implementation and Impact focus.
What does it all mean?
Located within the inner ear, the vestibular system is the sense of movement and balance. A strong vestibular system tells our bodies where we are in relation to the rest of the world; if we are standing up, falling down, or spinning around.
The proprioceptive system brings all our senses together. It takes external input and tells our muscles how to react. A person with a strong proprioceptive system knows where their body is in relation to space without much concentration.
The tactile system is the sense of touch. It tells us when something is too hot, too cold, or when we are in pain. It alerts our brain when we feel different surfaces and textures.
The trampette will give vertical vestibular input for calming and alerting. It can help body awareness in space. It provides proprioceptive input to the spine and lower body joints. It can help improve core strength. It can support attention to task or processing time. It is for one person use.
Swinging will engage the vestibular system. This swing delivers full body pressure provided by your own weight. This provides excellent proprioceptive input to help with calming when over-stimulated.
The Taco Swing is an easy and fun way to get relaxed. To get the full therapeutic effect, have the child or adult lie face up or down and begin slowly swinging.
The Steamroller ramp offers sensory stimulation, heavy work, bilateral coordination (co coordinating both sides of the body at the same time) and motor planning (remembering all the steps needed to make a movement happen) all in one.
- Heavy work is any type of activity that pushes or pulls against the body.
- Heavy work activities can help kids with sensory processing issues feel centered.
- Heavy work engages a sense called proprioception, or body awareness.
Jump and Play Island
Jump and Play Island offers a lot of propreoceptive input. It increases spacial awareness; where you are in space. It can increase balance and motor planning (remembering all the steps needed to make a movement happen)
You can use this on your own or with others – Work together in a small group or with a partner
Walk around or jump – Move in and out of the middle
The disc swing provides both vestibular and proprioceptive stimulation, with the addition of the Vertical Stimulation Device the swing will have the ability to bounce. You can vary the vestibular input from gentle pushing and rocking to a more active shaking, rotating and orbiting (moving in a circle).
Platform swing. Swinging will engage a child’s vestibular system. It helps us prepare our posture, maintain our balance, properly use our vision, calm ourselves and regulate our behaviour.
Be aware of the amount of vestibular input needed and monitor; using the swing to calm or alert.
How can we use the platform swing to calm the child?
- Gradual start moving the platform swing from 20 – 30 degrees
- The movement should be slow rhythmic (without jerks or sudden stops)
- Duration: 5 to 10 mins
- Activities can be incorporated into the swing after 6-7 sessions, once the child settles down with the movement.
How can we use the platform swing to alert the child?
Start the swing with slow rhythmic moves from 20 – 30 degrees approximately. Continue it for 5-10 min then stop the swing suddenly ensuring safety. This induces after them and eye contact, body awareness and postural control/stability in the child.
Activities such as catching and throwing a ball in various directions could be incorporated into the swinging activity. The position of the child can be changed from sitting to standing or standing to prone lying to provide additional input to the vestibular system. These activities improve:
- Eye contact
- Attention and concentration
- Postural control and stability
What is the impact for our students?
The impact of how we support students with sensory processing needs is that students have benefited by being emotionally regulated, have less anxiety, fewer behavioural incidents and have a sense of wellbeing. This then prepares them for transitions throughout their life. Students learn to recognise and manage their own sensory needs.
Staff in school benefit from consistency, training, knowledge and have to confidence to support students appropriately.
Everyone understands that they have a responsibility to ensure that sensory processing is a thread throughout all we do in school.