Autism Seminar Notes Part 7

What does sensory processing have to do with learning and behavior at school?   Necessary for systems to work together in an organized manner or major traffic jam! 

Sensory Processing Dysfunction

  • Sensory Modulation Disorders (SMD)
  1. Sensory Over-Responsive (SOR)
  2. Sensory Under-Responsive (SUR)
  3. Sensory Seeking (SS) 
  • Sensory Discrimination Disorders
  • Sensory Based Movement Disorders: Dyspraxia and Postural 

Not all children with sensory processing disorders have autism, but all children with autism have sensory issues. 

 

How Can We Best Categorize The Concerning Behaviors?

  1. Movement Issues
  2. Avoidance and Retreat Behaviors
  3. Difficulty with Routine and Academics
  4. Social-Emotional 

 

Where do we see these behaviors?

  • Inside the classroom
  • Outside the classroom—arriving, in line, leaving school
  • PE and Playground
  • Art, Music, Assemblies
  • Pull-Out Services
  • Lunchtime and Snack 

 

Movement Issues

  • Student appears to be under-aware of his body and environmental stimuli
  • Student may be defensive to touch
  • Student appears to be hyperactive, or a “sensory seeker” 
  • May be labeled as “aggressive” with peers 

 

Movement Issue #1: 

BEHAVIOR:

  • Out of seat
  • Wiggling
  • Fidgeting

 

Why is occurring? 

  • Student craves movement
  • May be an attempt to maintain an arousal state 

 

Solutions:

  • Movement breaks
  • Allow the student to stand at the desk
  • Hand fidgets
  • Seat cushion device
  • Oral strategies
  • “Calm Down Breathing” 

 

Movement Issue #2

BEHAVIOR:

  • Breaking pencils or canyons
  • Extremely dark lettering
  • Messy dark
  • Can’t keep up with written work 

 

What is the cause?

  • Touch and force systems are under-aware
  • Attempt to self-regulate by drawing and writing darkly 
  • Poor fine motor skills lead to frustration

 

Solutions

  • Use heavier writing utensils that won’t break
  • Use heavier stock paper
  • Use a mechanical pencil
  • Try keyboarding
  • Peer scribe
  • Supply handouts, use a highlighter 

 

Movement Issue #3

BEHAVIOR:

  • Doesn’t line up in time
  • Wanders away from a group
  • Pokes or pushes other students
  • “Aggressive” during PE and on the playground 

 

Why is this occurring? 

  • Challenges with waiting
  • Lack of awareness of environmental cues
  • Student is sensory seeking 

 

Solutions:

  • Reduce waiting time/limit turn taking
  • Assign a consistent place inline
  • Have motor restless child act as door holder
  • Give the student something to hold in his hands while standing and walking inline
  • Practice walking to various locations on campus to build a visual memory map 
  • Review the play and line rules
  • Provide positive reinforcement for appropriate behavior 

 

Movement Breaks in Class

  • Theraband
  • Move ‘n Sit cushion
  • Semi-inflated beach ball
  • Classroom helper
  • Push-Pulls
  • Chair lifts
  • Wall push-ups 

 

Movement Breaks Out of Class

  • Messenger
  • Playground activities 
  • Custodial helper 

 

Some Ideas for Hand Fidgets

  • Squeeze balls
  • Koosh balls
  • Rubber bands
  • Tangles
  • Hairbands
  • Textured fabric
  • Stretchy bracelets 

 

Oral Regulators

  • Jolly Ranchers
  • Spicy, crunchy, chewy snacks
  • Ice
  • Straws
  • Stir sticks 
  • Water bottle with a thin or long straw
  • Gum 

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