As a school and SEND team we had been discussing the sensory needs of a number of children at our school and how best to support a growing number of pupils. I was recommended a book called ‘Sensory Circuits’ by Jane Horwood. It was a great quick read that explained the theory behind sensory integration and processing, and included practical advice and activities.
Research shows that sensory processing and integration difficulties may contribute to an individual’s difficulties in engaging in the normal activities of daily living, such as getting dressed, social interaction, concentration, focus, academic success and behaviour.
A variety of children can be targeted, such as those who constantly fiddle in class, are slow to start work and constantly miss cues, have difficulties organising themselves, are tired and dreamy, have poor co-ordination and balance, and those who have difficulty paying attention and lack confidence to join in. The list, of course, is endless.
As SENCO I invited one of our highly skilled and experienced LSAs to run the circuit each morning. Having observed a number of children in a variety of situations (classroom, playground, etc.) I identified children who were suitable to attend the circuit. The circuit co-ordinator and the class teacher set a target for each child; for example, ‘to improve balance and reduce calling out in class.’
The sensory circuit has to be active, physical and fun. It has to follow a sequence of activities, done repeatedly, to provide the child with the right type of sensory input in order for them to be calm, feel organised for the day ahead, and be ready for learning.
The sensory co-ordinator makes sure that there is a range of activities that start with something alerting, then move to an organisation stage, then finally a calming stage.
We started off small with only a few children accessing the circuit, but teachers reported that there was a noticeable impact in the classroom and parents were reporting that their children couldn’t wait to get to school.
This led to a whole school inset on running a sensory circuit with individuals and groups. Sensory bags were set up to support children in classrooms for when the adult recognises that they need a sensory break. This means they can access this straight away or it can be built into their personalised timetable.
Now, when you walk around the school, you will see children accessing sensory circuits some on a one-to-one basis and others as a small group.
The benefits we have noticed so far are: children being ready to learn when they enter the classroom; children able to concentrate and focus on their learning for longer; more independence and improved attendance.
Lead SENCO Alver Valley Schools
to find out more about SEND provision at Alver Valley Schools visit our SEND page. You maybe interested in other Spotlight articles from our SEND team: Maximising the Impact of Teaching Assistants at Alver Valley Schools and Developing the Alver Valley Schools Personal Development Curriculum
If you are interested in finding out more about Alver Valley Schools go to www.alvervalleyschools.co.uk