Child & Family Development Child & Family Development

August 30, 2021

Sensory Challenges in a Classroom

By: Sarah Evanko, OTR/L

As we re-enter the classrooms our children are going to be making new friends, learning, and growing! You may ask yourself, “Why is my child having such a hard time paying attention in school?” Which many parents may be wondering? In a typical classroom, there are so many sensory sensations that occur all at the same time. Below is a list of the different challenges. To help encourage your child’s ongoing participation in class, talk to your occupational therapist to discuss creating a specialized sensory diet.

  • Tactile
    • Art Class (using clay, glue, paint, sand, glitter)
    • Keeping masks on all-day
    • Clothing choices (too tight, itchy, etc.)
    • Touching others and their items
    • Eating snacks, or certain foods at lunch
    • Washing hands or using sanitizer
  • Visual
    • Lights in the classroom (too bright or too dim)
    • Copying words off the board
    • Reading from a book
    • Cutting with scissors
    • Writing name
    • Completing crafts
    • Playing catch
  • Auditory
    • School bells
    • Fire alarms
    • Toilets flushing
    • Students talking in the room
    • Class exchange
    • Pencil sharpeners
    • Pencils clicking
    • Gum chewing
    • Chairs scraping
  • Proprioception
    • Sitting still in the chair (wanting to wiggle)
    • Standing still inline
    • Pressing too hard when writing or coloring
    • Playing too aggressively on the jungle gym
    • Standing too close or too far from peers
  • Taste
    • Pickiness when eating undesirable lunch foods
  • Smell
    • Lunchroom smells are a medley of challenges for friends that are sensitive
    • Smells in public bathrooms
    • Art supplies
  • Vestibular
    • Being either afraid or seeking out swings/jungle gyms
    • Clumsiness when walking
    • Nervousness around stairs
    • Sitting on toilets