The Sensory Approach to Maximizing Students’ Potential

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Creating Sensory smart classrooms, incorporating fine motor goals, when to contact an OT, the importance of movement, Integrating Special needs children in the classroom

Text of The Sensory Approach to Maximizing Students’ Potential

  • 1. "OT and Teachers: The Sensory Approach to maximizing students potential 1. Role of Occupational Therapists in the school setting. 2. Creating Sensory Smart Classrooms 3. How to recognize children that would benefit from OT 4. Helping Children that cant sit still 5. Favorite products that can be used in a classroom setting 6. Integrating Special Needs children in the classroom 7. Resources

2. Role of Occupational Therapists in the school setting 1. Help children meet goals of curriculum 2. Help children become more independent in school related tasks 3. Help children participate in specials, sports etc.. 4. Work on fine motor skills and functional independence skills 5. Implement recommendations from other therapists and professional involved with this child 3. How do OTs meet these goals Affecting the ENVIRONMENT: General classroom recommendations, curriculum recommendations (consulting) Affecting the INDIVIDUAL: Individually by addressing one-on-one a childs challenges (direct OT services) 4. Creating Sensory Smart Classrooms (Environmental Modifications) Goal is to create an environment that takes into consideration the sensory needs of all children. Try to find ideas that will benefit all children. Sensory children have difficulty organizing their bodies from the inside out. Our goal is to try as much as possible to create a classroom that helps them find balance from the outside in. 5. Sensory Smart Classrooms Classroom Organization: 1. Set up your classroom in stations and make sure you have a quiet area where kids can calm and regroup if needed when class get too loud. 2. Make sure the quiet area has lots of book, heavy blankets, pillows. Bean bags, earphones. 3. Provide fidget toys such as tactile balls, stress balls. 4. Use visual schedules at the beginning of class that maps out the childrens day. This helps kids transition more easily from one activity to the next and can keep them more organized. Classroom Activities: 1. Use songs to help children transition such as Clean upclean up or flick lights 2. Make sure your schedule allows for movement breaks as well as table-top activities. Brain Breaks are great. 3. During circle time. Keep the children that have a harder time keeping still next to you or make sure you give them something to hold like a puppet. Or give them a fidget toy to hold on to or even a weighted lap pad. 4. Try to plan activities that incorporate as many sensory components as possible. Ex: finger paint on textured surfaces. 5. You can begin all table-top activities with a little chair exercise program that allows all the children to get their state of arousal at the same level. Ex: prior to commencing a handwriting task. Sing a song with the children that wakes up the arms, legs, stretches etc 6. Consider having a treasure box with a variety of sensory toys. You can send a child to pick a sensory toy that helps them calm and become centered/organized. Ex: Put stress balls, fidget toys, body brush, lotion, etc 7. Make a bean bag snake using a sock and dried beans. The over-aroused child can put it on his shoulders or lap to help calm during circle time or at table-top. 8. Outdoor activities are an all around wonderful sensory experience. 6. Sensory Smart Classrooms Sensory/Arousal: 1. For children who need to calm, use deep pressure such as pressure with your hands to his/her shoulders 2. Another great way to calm is to give a child heavy resistive work to do ex: carry heave books to the table, push/pull heavy cart. 3. For children who need increased arousal, have them do a few jumping jacks, wall push ups etc or use light touch from your finger tips or a feather to awaken their senses. 4. For children who touch other peers during circle time, consider sitting them against a wall or bookshelf for extra grounding and trunk support, give them a fidget toy to hold 5. Touching others can be an indication that the child needs tactile input to his hands. You can brush the childs hands, have him play with playdoh/other resistive mediums, play hand clapping games, crawling or wheelbarrow walking, 6. For a child who has difficulty transitioning from one activity to the next, allow him/her to hold on to an object that they like (aka. A transitioning object) This helps them keep it together during the transition. You can also assign a task to the child such as helper (ex: he holds the cards you will be using and brings them to circle time) 7. 4-Favorite products that can be used in a classroom setting Weighted Items: 8. Favorite products that can be used in a classroom setting Wedges and discs: 9. Favorite products that can be used in a classroom setting Fidget toys: 10. Favorite products that can be used in a classroom setting Visual Schedules: 11. Favorite products that can be used in a classroom setting Brain Breaks: 12. How do OTs meet these goals Affecting the ENVIRONMENT: General classroom recommendations, curriculum recommendations (consulting) Affecting the INDIVIDUAL: Individually by addressing one-on-one a childs challenges (direct OT services) 13. How to recognize children that would benefit from OT I. SELF HELP SKILLS: The student's ability to manage personal needs within the educational environment. II. POSTURE/FUNCTIONAL MOBILITY: The student's ability to perform basic developmental motor skills, posture, and balance needed to function in and move throughout the educational environment. III. FINE MOTOR/PERCEPTUAL SKILLS: The student's ability to manipulate and manage materials within the educational environment. IV. SENSORY PROCESSING: The student's ability to process relevant sensory information and screen out irrelevant sensory information for effective participation within the educational environment. 14. 3-Helping Children that cant sit still Children with sensory processing disorders have a tendency toward two major problems regarding sitting: 1- Lack of focus 2- Inability to sit or stand for a long period of time. Their brain tends to "under register" movement, and without that ability, they can't focus. Their brains are telling their bodies to get up and move to help them listen and attend BETTER! 15. Successful strategies Provide as much support as possible while sitting so the body feels secure. This includes: Feet flat on the floor or footrest, Good back and hips and knees at 90-degree angles. Allowing as much movement as possible without disrupting others while sitting. This includes: allowing small movement opportunities with the hands, using fidgets, or with the mouth, using gum or "chewys." Move and sit seat wedges or ball chairs. 16. Movement is key Movement is what helps the brain develop from infancy. Movement is stimulation that the brain craves. Have plenty of movement opportunities available for the children. Remember, kids in motion, aren't commotion! CHILDREN LEARN BEST FROM MOVEMENT AND WE HAVE FORGOTTEN THIS IN OUR CLASSROOMS! 17. Integrating Special Needs children in the classroom Seating considerations: Try to sit the child directly in front of the teacher or upfront of the group. This way the teacher can easily catch her eye or whisper to her if she is touching someone or not listening. Also sit the child next to students you would like her to model for good behavior and good listening. Break time and recess: This when a child can get in the most trouble because they dont always know what is expected of them. The best solution during any free time like recess is to give the child a job ex: clean the boards or even just talking to the teacher. Free play is not the best idea unless a teacher or paraprofessional is directing a game. Lunchtime: Let the child know what is expected of them and have them practice the routine ex: picking up a tray, lining up for food etc.. If tables are long picnic tables sit the child at one end. Changing classrooms between subjects: Children with special needs need help with finding each class that they need to go into. This also includes when she needed to go to the bathroom and then couldn't find her way back to the classroom. Dont assume the child will follow other students or will know where to go, practice changing classrooms. Writing assignments: Give these children more time to complete their work especially on testing materials and writing stories. Break assignments into smaller steps for the special needs student. This does not mean that assignments have to take longer, but simply that they have more steps. This can be done for the entire class so that the student does not feel she is being singled out. Research on the disability: The more knowledge you have about the students special needs, the easier it will be to accommodate those needs. You also want your students to know about the disability so that they are more understanding of their new classmate. This also decreases the chance of the new student getting bullied or picked on by the new student. Work in groups: Encourage students to work in small groups so they can learn from each other 18. Nancy Amar OTR/L cell: 786-384-0221 email: MissMancy@gmail.com