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We are constantly taking in information—particularly sights, smells, and sounds-- and our Sensory Integration skills help us make sense of it all. Sensory Integration involves receiving, processing, and organizing multiple sources of sensory information and transforming this information into appropriate responses. When students struggle with Sensory Integration, sensory input can interfere with their ability to focus on reading and writing.
Students with Sensory Integration difficulties can struggle with peer relationships, participating in classroom activities, and getting adequate sleep. This can lead to difficulties with learning, including learning to read and write.
The threshold for processing sensory information and the response can vary:
Some basic patterns of Sensory Integration include:
Students who are sensation seeking/hyposensitive may seek out higher levels of sensory input (e.g., requiring noise to be louder, needing more light). Students who are sensation avoiding/hypersensitive may experience sensory overload, causing them to be irritable, withdraw from activities, or avoid touch. Some students may show a mixture of sensory seeking and avoidance.
Physically acting out a text enhances reading comprehension.
Expressing ideas through visuals and audio, and understanding others' ideas in these forms, is as critical in today's world as traditional reading and writing.
Students activate more cognitive processes by exploring and representing their understandings in visual form.
Dim or natural lighting provides a calming environment.
Visiting places connected to classroom learning provides opportunities to deepen understanding through firsthand experiences.
As students walk through stations working in small groups, the social and physical nature of the learning supports deeper understanding.
Full sentence manipulatives allow students to practice producing more complex Syntax and writing.
Providing physical representations of parts of a sentence activates learners' mental processes.
Through short but regular mindfulness activities, students develop their awareness and ability to focus.
Short breaks that include mindfulness quiet the brain to allow for improved thinking and emotional regulation.
Multiple tables and chairs on wheels allow for setting up the classroom to support the desired learning outcomes of each classroom activity.
Brain breaks that include movement allow learners to refresh their thinking and focus on learning new information.
Instruction in multiple formats allows students to activate different cognitive skills to understand and remember the steps they are to take in their literacy work.
Multiple display spaces promote collaboration by allowing groups to share information easily as they work.
Multiple writing surfaces promote collaboration by allowing groups to share information easily as they work.
Connecting information to music and dance moves enhances Short-term and Long-term Memory by drawing on auditory processes and the cognitive benefits of physical activity.
Research shows physical activity improves focus and creativity.
Playful activities can support the development of learners' Metacognition and also inspire their narratives and writing.
Maintaining consistent classroom routines and schedules ensures that students are able to trust and predict what will happen next.
Cards with strategies for managing emotions help students remember how to act when faced with strong feelings.
Decreasing extra audio input provides a focused learning environment.
Incorporating multiple senses with strategies like chewing gum, using a vibrating pen, and sitting on a ball chair supports focus and Attention.
Providing ways for students to adjust sound level supports individual auditory needs.
Using earplugs or headphones can increase focus and comfort.
Providing ways for students to meet their individual temperature needs supports Attention and Inhibition & Self-Regulation.
Tossing a ball, beanbag, or other small object activates physical focus in support of mental focus.
Spaces that are structured, organized, and clean provide increased room for collaboration and active learning.
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