Sensory Kids in the Classroom

Posted By: Carrie Salyer on Sep 25, 2017   Category: Articles, Parent Seminars, Resources  

“Sit still.”
“Pay attention.”
“Keep your hands to yourself.”
“You lose 10 minutes of recess.”

These are phrases that sensory-kids often hear throughout their school day. Sitting still, paying attention, and keeping hands to himself can be super tricky for a child with sensory processing challenges…and losing 10 minutes of recess is likely the worst consequence a sensory-seeking kid could be given. It is important to understand the needs of a sensory kid in order to support him and give him an opportunity to be successful during his school day.

So…what is a “sensory-kid”? Sensory kids demonstrate an inability to effectively process sensation, from the visual, auditory, touch, taste, smell, proprioception, interoception, and/or vestibular senses. The inefficient processing may manifest as challenges with the following in the classroom:

• Attention
• Learning
• Behavior
• Self-regulation
• Social skills
• Handwriting
• Fine & gross motor skills
• Self-help skills

A sensory-kid who is a sensory seeker needs more, more, more! sensory input. He might move, wiggle, touch constantly, and become distracted in a busy environment.
A sensory-kid who is sensory-sensitive to stimuli may shutdown or act out in the classroom due to too much stimulation and feeling overwhelmed.

Several sensory systems impact a child’s ability to function effectively in a classroom setting. Here are a few examples:

Visual: Think about all the visual input from the classroom; all the decorations, papers hanging, cubbies with coats and backpacks, posters, etc. Now think about a child who has poor visual processing skills and becomes overwhelmed with a lot of print on a page. How might this child react in a classroom setting? What can you do to help?

Auditory: There are many sounds in a classroom that might go unnoticed by most individuals, unless they have challenges with auditory processing. The sounds a child may hear might include a door opening or closing, children in the hallway, the pencil of the child behind him scratching on the paper, the turning of pages, the squeaking of chairs, and/or the teacher moving about the room. If this child’s auditory system has difficulty tuning out those sounds, how well can he attend to his work?


Vestibular and Proprioception: A child who is a sensory seeker is constantly in search of, or in need of, additional sensory experiences. He may be always “on-the-go”, which makes it difficult to remain seated for attending and learning. He may appear to be aggressive, rough and/or out of control. What strategies can be used in the classroom to accommodate his sensory needs?

Tactile: If a child is not processing tactile input efficiently, he will respond to peers or situations in ways that are considered inappropriate. This child may need to touch everything in his environment in order to register sensory information, which could be perceived as a behavioral problem. Additionally, imagine a child who interprets touch as a negative experience…his body is processing a gentle touch or a bump from a peer as painful and/or threatening. How might this aversion to touch impact attention, learning, and peer relationships?


For additional information about how sensory processing impacts a child’s school performance, and strategies to improve attention, learning, self-regulation, and positive behavior, please join us for our next FREE parent seminar:

Sensory Kids in the Classroom
October 5, 2017

Please contact the office to reserve your spot today! Call us at 636-928-LEAP(5327) or email:!

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