Sensory Based Strategies. Summer Course Sligo July 2014

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1 Sensory Based Strategies Summer Course Sligo July 2014

2 Sensory Processing Sensory processing involves: Receiving sensory input Registering sensory input Integrating sensory input Responding to sensory input Consider: What sensory input are you currently receiving? What sensory input does a pupil receive in the classroom?

3 Sensory issues and Autism Although sensory processing difficulties are not cited as a core diagnostic feature of ASD, these difficulties often underpin many of the core features e.g. Stereotyped and repetitive behaviours Lack of varied play Communication difficulties Lack of social interaction Limited eye contact

4 Research Evidence Sensory issues documented in Kanner s early descriptions of autism Children with PDD have different sensory processing characteristics when compared to typically developing peers (Dunn, 2002) Children with ASD have significant differences in oral sensory processing when compared to children with ADHD or children without disabilities (Ermer and Dunn, 1998) 100% of children with ASD in a study by Greenspan and Wieder (1997) had auditory processing difficulties

5 Sensory Processing and ASD...certain sounds frightened me- dogs barking, mopeds, tractors and cars, engines of various kinds. They would explode inside me and make me lose all sense of the way my body related to my surroundings. It was like being flung out into space- whoosh- quite without warning. Sometimes I screamed and covered my ears...some sounds around me I hardly reacted to at all... (Gerland G, 1999)

6 Sensory Modulation Sensory modulation allows us to regulate the amount and intensity of sensory input processed by the brain Modulation of sensory input is critical to our ability to engage in daily occupations. Filtering of sensations and attending to those that are relevant, maintaining an optimal level of arousal and maintaining attention to task all require modulation. (Bundy, Lane and Murray, 2002)

7 Thresholds of response We generally function around a normal threshold of response The normal amount of sensory input in the environment is enough to keep us alert, but without feeling overwhelmed We focus on relevant input and ignore irrelevant input The ideal state for learning and interacting: ALERT AND CALM- THE TEACHABLE MOMENT

8 The Calm Alert State Sensory modulation allows us to achieve the calm alert state We attend to relevant and important sensory stimuli in the environment We ignore irrelevant and unimportant stimuli in the environment We are therefore alert, but calm

9 THE TEACHABLE MOMENT The Calm Alert State is the optimal state for: Engagement in learning Engagement in activities Engagement in interactions

10 Thresholds of Response; Low Over-responsiveness Some pupils cannot ignore or filter sensory input in the environment They over-respond to sensory input and have a low tolerance for input They perceive sensory input as stressful, which can lead to fight or flight responses We describe these children as: Over-responsive Hypersensitive Defensive (e.g. Auditory/tactile defensive) Avoidant

11 Indicators of over-responsiveness Dislike or fear of sensory busy environments Consider playground, dining hall and practical classes Avoidance of sensory input Absconds from classroom Hides under desks etc Dislike/avoidance of specific types of input e.g. Messy play, Art, Music, P.E. Distractible Anxious and emotionally labile Physiological responses

12 Thresholds of Response; High Under-responsiveness Some pupils are filtering out too much sensory input, leading to underresponsiveness They have poor registration of sensory input Responsiveness, motivation and engagement improve when increased sensory input is provided

13 Under-responsiveness Pupils who are under-responsive to sensory input may present with two different sets of behaviours: Low registration Sensory seeking

14 Indicators of low registration A pupils who is under-responsive to sensory input may present in the following ways: No or slow response to sensory input Lethargic Switched off Ignores instructions He/she is the last pupil to line up Appears to be disinterested in classroom activities Limited interaction with classmates Appears to respond better in active and sensory-rich tasks

15 Sensory seeking Sensory seekers are also under-responding to the sensory input in the environment Sensory seekers also have poor registration of sensory stimuli and require increased sensory input However, sensory seekers will look for the increased input themselves They require additional input to increase registration and attention

16 Indicators of sensory seeking Pupils who are sensory seekers often present with the following behaviours: Hyperactive Impulsive Distractible Difficulty staying in his/her seat Fidgety Noisy Preference for active learning

17 Sensory Diets (Wilbarger, P) Provision of sensory input at regular intervals throughout the school day to achieve the calm alert state Identify The type of input required by the individual pupil/student (e.g. Tactile, movement, heavy muscle work, auditory) Calm breaks may also be included on a sensory diet When the pupil/student requires this input Frequency and duration of input Include on visual schedule

18 Examples of Movement Activities Walk/jog Star jumps Bouncing on therapy/exercise ball Taking a message to another teacher Tidying materials in the classroom Collecting work from other pupils

19 Heavy work activities These are activities which provide heavy muscle work They are effective in achieving the calm alert state: they will calm the child who is over-responding to sensory input they will increase alertness in the child who is underresponding to sensory input they will provide input to the sensory seeker and thus reduce hyperactivity and improve attention

20 Examples of heavy work activities Crawling/ wheelbarrow walks Jumping Exercise programme: chair or wall push-ups Stretches Carrying heavy books or schoolbag Pushing and pulling activities Moving furniture, PE mats etc Cardiovascular exercise/weights Oral motor activities

21 Examples of tactile activities Fidget toys Rummage/tactile boxes Messy play Art Washing dishes

22 Calm breaks For some pupils, the Sensory Diet may be a means of providing regular calm breaks throughout the day Provide calm breaks before and after sensory rich activities e.g. Play, Music, PE, Home Economics Direct the pupil to a sensory quiet environment e.g. screened corner, quiet room, cloakroom If appropriate, provide calming resources such as fidget toys, music, weighted items Do not wait until the pupil is already distressed before you give a calm break

23 Additional Strategies Use visual strategies to allow the pupil to request sensory breaks Get out of class cards Movement tokens Traffic light systems/volume controls

24 Sensory resources The following resources may also be useful in assisting pupils to achieve the calm alert state and thus facilitate learning and engagement Weighted blanket Movin sit cushion Therapy ball/space hopper Scooter board Fidget toys Chewy tube Weighted vest/bear hug

25 Desensitisation Desensitisation is used to reduce a pupil s sensitivity to sensory input Principles of desensitisation Gradually introduce the child to the activity which he/she dislikes Gradually increase the amount of time spent on the activity Follow the activity with a favourite toy or game Use calming strategies if required Use visual timer if required Stop activity if child becomes distressed

26 Desensitisation: Example Jack dislikes working with Art materials such as paint and clay Suggested strategies: Allow Jack to wear gloves, and then very gradually cut the fingers out of the gloves Use of a timer, and gradually increase the time spent on the activity Use of a First/Then visual schedule Follow with a highly motivating reinforcer

27 Blending approaches Sensory Programmes and Visual Teaching Strategies Include the sensory activities on the visual schedule Sensory activities can be incorporated into a work system Ensure the sensory activities are visually structured Ensure the sensory activities have a clear beginning and end

28 Blending Approaches Sensory Programmes and Communication Sensory activities can facilitate improved communication skills for some pupils Movement input can have an organising effect on the brain which promotes communication development Integrate communication tasks into the sensory activities

29 Planning your sensory programme What does the pupil need? Increased sensory stimulation? Calming activities? Calm breaks? How can the activities be structured? Will the activities develop additional skills e.g. motor skills, communication?

30 Keep up to Date with Events at the Centre Follow us on Find Middletown Centre for Autism on Facebook

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