Sensory processing


  • Register and filter specific information i.e. verbal instructions in a busy environment
  • Increase tolerance of specific sensory information, noise, tactile, food textures, movement.
  • Engagement in activities usually avoided as a result of emotional/ behavioural reactions to specific sensory input.
  • Responsiveness to specific sensory information leading to engagement and ability to register new information
  • Being able to attend and engage with learning activities using self-regulation strategies
  • Being able to manage emotions and behaviours related to sensory triggers
  • Demonstrate awareness of body position and movements reducing clumsy or uncoordinated movements i.e. bumping into objects, leaning on items, difficulty calibrating force of movement and physical contact.

What is Sensory Processing?

Sensory processing is the brain’s ability to take in sensory information from our body and the environment, to organise this information and to use this to function in everyday life.  Sensory processing enables us to make sense of our environment and respond, react and behave in meaningful ways.

The sensory system comprises of hearing, vision, taste, smell, touch, body awareness and movement.  It is the integration of these senses which allows us to attend, engage and interact with our environment and those around us feeling calm, in control and with confidence.

Sensory preferences and differences are experienced by us all and we respond in different ways to sensory experiences throughout our daily lives.  For some, sensory information can be difficult to organise, and this can create challenges in performing everyday tasks.  We can feel too much, too little or want to seek more sensory input.

Feeling too much – ‘Oh no!’

Feeling too little ‘ho-hum!’

Seeking ‘more!’

·       Feels overwhelmed·       Is clumsy, trips and bumps·       Always on the go
·       Avoids loud and busy environments·       Lacks inner drive to move·       Engages in rough play
·       Emotional and behavioural responses·       Drops items when handling·       Enjoys loud noise and environments
·       Difficulties attending to tasks·       Misses verbal or visual information·       Fiddles with and chews objects
·       Easily distracted·       Slow to respond·       Visually attracted to spinning or stimulating objects
·       On high alert·       Unaware of messy hands or face·       Lick or mouth non-food items
·       Difficulties with attention

Activities to help at home and school

·       Quiet spaces/chill out zone/den·       Stimulating environments·       Additional opportunities for movement
·       Pushing, pulling, lifting, carrying heavy or weighted items·       Pushing, pulling, lifting, carrying heavy or weighted items·       Pushing, pulling, lifting, carrying heavy or weighted items
·       Squeezes, hugs, firm touch·       Squeezes, hugs, firm touch·       Messy play/crafts
·       Blankets/cushions/beanbags to crawl under or crash into·       Swinging, jumping, bouncing·       Fidget tools/toys
·       Body weight exercises·       Sucking through straw/sports bottle·       Wobble cushion for sitting
·       Soothing stimuli·       Sharp, sour and crunchy foods·       Sensory box to include tactile, visual and auditory items
·       Predictable routine·       Varied routine

Useful websites:

Online Search Criteria:
homemade sensory tools, sensory products, fidget tools/toys, oral sensory tools, sensory processing books.

A programme to help students manage their emotions and actions.

A website educating and raising awareness of Sensory Processing Disorder through engaging learning.

A programme to help students in becoming aware of their emotions, and the stage or level of the emotion.

A network helping others learn to recognise and support sensory needs.

A practical approach to help us choose strategies to change or maintain levels of alertness.

A website offering special educational apps for autism, Down’s syndrome and other developmental disabilities.

Useful Apps:

BrainWorks App

Useful Documents:

Sensory Processing Checklist

Useful Links: 

Understanding Sensory Processing and Integration In Children: A guide for parents and carers – Online course from Sensory Integration Education. The course is free of charge and anyone registering has 30 days to access