Sensory Issues At School
Sensory Issues in a School Setting
Most kids with mild sensory problems and no other issues do just fine learning and socializing at school with a bit of understanding, extra support, a sensory diet, and a few simple accommodations. You may be able to work this out informally with your child’s school.
However, a child with sensory processing disorder (SPD) may need more help to function well in the classroom and elsewhere at school (the cafeteria, gym, art class, etc.).
If your child qualifies for special education services, he will receive an IEP (Individualized Education Plan), created cooperatively by you and the school, that spells out how the school will meet his unique needs. The IEP ensures that the school district will provide a free and appropriate education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE). In plain English, that means that children cannot simply be placed in a special education classroom that doesn’t meet their needs.
The object is to figure out how to help the child function in a less-restrictive, appropriate classroom. As a parent, you will want to develop sensory smarts and use good observation skills and creativity to make the school environment and the child’s needs a better match. Ask to observe your child at school, attend all IEP meetings and do not agree to an IEP unless you are satisfied with what the school has proposed, and advocate for your child using your understanding of his unique sensory profile, needs, and temperament. What works for one child with sensory issues might not work for another. Remember that the "I" in IEP stands for individual. Insist on accommodations that will work for your child. Whether you end up with an IEP, a 504 plan, or an informal agreement with teachers, know that what works at home may not be a feasible option at school, so get creative--and check out the suggestions in Raising a Sensory Smart Child.
BUY Raising a Sensory Smart Child and learn more about helping your child who has sensory processing issues.
Click Below for more information on sensory specific age groups
Understanding 504 Plans and IEP's
If your child with sensory issues doesn’t receive special education services, he can still get help through a 504 plan. A 504 plan is a formal document that states what accommodations must be made for your child, such as allowing her to eat lunch somewhere other than the noisy cafeteria, having more time allotted for taking tests, and so on.
If your child receives special ed services, his IEP will spell out specifics such as school accommodations (preferential seating, sensory diet activities and others), assistive technology, therapeutic and educational goals, and mandates for related services such as occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech therapy. A wonderful book for helping you understand the IEP process and your rights, deal effectively with the school system, and resolve disputes is The Complete IEP Guide: How to Advocate for Your Special Ed Child by Lawrence M. Siegel. You may also want to check Wrightslaw for articles, information, and a blog on special education rights.