Evidence-based strategies for sensory

Evidence-based strategies are those that have been evaluated by researchers within school settings, and found to be effective.

Have a consistent routine

Predictability and a consistent routine can help some students who have sensory sensitivities. 

Sensory modifications

Explore below when and why evidence-based sensory modifications may be particularly helpful for some students. 

Increased sensitivity

Students with increased sensitivity to sensory input may react to specific sounds or loud noises (for example, they may cover their ears or become upset in large crowds or when you raise your voice; they may become distracted by background noises that others don’t notice). 

They may also react to certain textures (for example, fabrics, tags on clothing, tight socks,  sand, or types of food), specific smells (for example, perfumes) or specific visual input (for example, some types of lighting or another person maintaining eye contact) or touch (for example, they may avoid physical contact with others).

Modifications and adjustments that aim to reduce the intensity of input (for example, avoiding perfumes, changing lighting or offering opportunities to wear noise-reducing headphones), or help students to cope (for example, a safe space to access, time to calm down), are most relevant to students with increased sensitivity to sensory input. 

Reduced sensitivity

Students with reduced sensitivity to sensory input may not react to pain or changes in temperature. 

This can increase their risk of getting hurt or being ill and others not being aware of it.

They may also be drawn to visual input (for example, fascinated by lights or movement), show a strong interest in specific smells (for example, sniff toys or objects), have a heightened drive to touch textures or people or seek out deep pressure or movement (for example, compression clothing; ‘crashing’ into walls).

Activities that engage the senses (for example, adding preferred textures into a learning activity, providing seating that allows students to rock and wriggle safely) are most relevant to students with reduced sensitivity to sensory input.