How do Sensory Items Help Students with Autism Focus in Class?
Backup…what is a sensory need?
Sensory needs are more common than you may realize. In fact, you might have some sensory needs without even realizing it. Sometimes it’s referred to as a Sensory Processing Disorder and can range from being uncomfortable with tags on the inside of your clothes to having specific likes and dislikes when it comes to food texture, and not liking when people brush or cut your hair. Individuals who have an autism diagnosis often have additional sensory sensitivities that may require supplemental support.
Sensory items in classrooms
At Children’s Home’s Academy for Autism (AFA), our therapeutic school for children with autism, we have special sensory items students have direct access to in their classroom, as well as additional sensory rooms where students can immerse themselves to meet their unique needs.
In each classroom, we have calming corners where students can sit on a bean bag chair and play with a fidget toy before returning to their desks. Having sensory items within reach helps keep kids in the classroom and minimize disruptions. Of course, there may be instances when a child’s behavior becomes distracting toother students or they need to away from their peers, so when this happens, the student can go to a separate sensory room to center and calm themselves before returning to class.
Sensory needs look different for each person with autism
At AFA, we know that each student has different sensory needs. Because of that, our staff caters to each child’s needs by providing them with a small array of their preferred sensory items directly in the classrooms. We also group students with similar sensory needs in the same classroom. A student’s sensory needs may look like a yoga ball as a chair, a desk that rocks back and forth, hand-held fidgets, or even noise-canceling headphones for those who need to decrease external stimulation. Our staff at AFA excel at meeting each student’s sensory needs, so the students can focus on learning.