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Sensory processing in school

Schools are a sensory nightmare as anyone who has spent any time in one knows. Modern teaching techniques are without a doubt more interactive with a view to be more engaging and entertaining for students but this does mean that there is an even greater impact on sensory processing. 

Here is a brief rundown of the impact on autistic sensory systems throughout a school day.


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School dinners are unpredictable as there is no guarantee that the planned menu option will be available or that even a person’s favourite food would be cooked in a way and to a recipe that the child expects.



School uniforms can be uncomfortable and even painful for some children to wear. School corridors can be crowded and often people bump into you and this can cause further turmoil.  School playgrounds with children running around and brushing past each other. 



The smell of lots of people in a small confined space, the smells of school dinners cooking, the smell of art or craft equipment 



The noise of children in the playground, communal areas, classrooms, the noise of fluorescent lights. Computers and whiteboards, music lessons,



Bright lights, the glare off of screens


Vestibular and proprioceptive


Different floorings, seating and working out motor planning in crowded spaces. 



The anxiety of being in the school environment often means that the individual is unable to process their body’s signals and this could lead to a child having a toileting accident or being unable to know if they are feeling unwell or need a drink etc. 

For more information on what the senses are, visit our free resources section here.

For more information on sensory profiles and how to manage a child's sensory needs, check out our book, 'Parenting Rewired' here.

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