As a pediatric occupational therapist, I am often asked by teachers for ways to help children, with sensory processing issues, attend better in class. Sensory Processing Disorder is when a child’s body takes in the environment through its senses but is unable to organize them into a proper response. The poor responses translate into difficulty functioning in all their daily routines. In school, this may look like a child fidgeting and unable to attend at circle time, missing multi-step directions, unable to finish tasks on time or generally exhibiting impulsive behavior.
As a result of a recent inquiry by a school and discussions with the child’s parents, I recently designed and installed a sensory hallway at a local day school. The purpose of a sensory hallway is to give kids just enough movement to stimulate different parts of the brain that will allow them to settle down and refocus. Sensory exercises are particularly helpful for kids who have processing issues, stress, anxiety and ADHD. By using their muscles, breathing and spatial awareness, they walk away with a better understanding and awareness of their body and can rejoin the class with better focus. The beauty of the hallway is that it is placed right outside the classroom and can be done independently with the child returning to class more regulated. I believe that part of what helps children with sensory regulation is empowering them to be in tune with their bodies and knowing themselves when they need a “sensory break.” If you have any questions and would like to discuss ways to help your child in or out of school, please feel free to reach out.
Bibi Pavel is a pediatric occupational therapist with over 20 years of experience. She is the founder and owner of Bolsters & Balls Occupational and Speech Therapy located in Teaneck and can be reached at 917-579-5399 or [email protected].