Sensory and/or Physical Needs
There is a wide range of sensory and physical difficulties, but the important consideration in this area is the degree to which the difficulties impact on a child’s or young person’s ability to access educational opportunities. The following examples have been taken from the Wigan Council website.
- The levels of hearing loss are mild, moderate, severe or profound
- Visual impairment is an eye condition that cannot be fully corrected by glasses or contact lenses
- The levels of vision are mild, moderate, severe or profound
- Multi-sensory impairment occurs when there is a hearing loss and visual impairment, which are both educationally significant although they may be at different levels
Sensory Processing Difficulty
- Our bodies and the environment send our brain information through our senses. We process and organise this information so that we feel comfortable and secure. When a child has difficulty coping with these demands, they may have sensory processing difficulties.
- A child may be under-sensitive or over-sensitive in the 5 areas:
- Proprioception (ability to perceive the body's position in space and movement)
- Vestibular (sense of balance and spatial orientation)
- Auditory (reaction to certain sounds)
- Oral Sensory (taste, texture, and temperature of food)
- Tactile (reaction to touch - e.g light touch or deep pressure)
- Physical/medical injures can be for a variety of reasons, e.g. congenital conditions (some progressive), injury or disease.
- A child with a physical difficulty may have a diagnosed medical condition which affects them physically. There may be an undiagnosed condition where the child presents with delayed development or impairment with their physical ability and/or presentation.
Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)
There remains debate about whether SPD is an independent diagnosable disorder or the result of observable symptoms linked to well-established disorders. For example, sensory sensitivities are part of the diagnostic criteria for autism. Regardless, it is important to recognise that children may be experiencing sensory processing difficulties, as these may not be as obvious as other conditions affecting eyesight, hearing, and physical development.
Children with significant sensory or physical disability should ideally have a plan containing agreed strategies for providing an inclusive education for the child. It is likely that a specific member of school staff is responsible for monitoring the implementation of the plan. Changes to the plan are often made with involvement of the student, parents, external professionals, and school staff. Clearly these arrangements will vary depending on the country and type of school. For teachers, however, it is paramount that they read and understand the plan, incorporate the advice into their teaching, and provide feedback about its success.
- Sensory processing issues can vary widely, depending on the sensitivity and the age of the child. Here are a couple of articles that may give more of an insight:
- Five Ways To Support Students With Sensory Processing Disorders
- Strategies according to sense - some really good advice here!