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Teaching Children with Sensory Motor Integration Deficits
By Anthony Kane, MD
Sensory motor integration deficits are fairly common in both
children and adults. The following is a list of tips for
teachers who have children with sensory processing disorders.
Have the child line up in the back of the line to minimize
physical contact with others.
- Don't have the child wait in line for long periods of
- Permit the child to wear a sweater or jacket indoors.
This may help to relax the child.
- Keep enough space between children so that they are not
close enough to touch each other.
- When sitting on the floor, use markers or masking tape
to define the child's personal space.
- Allow the child to choose where he sits during story time.
- Don't force a child who is showing fear or distress to
participate in activities.
- Place the child's desk along the side of the room outside
- Orient the child's desk so that he has a good view of
where others are moving.
For Children who Have Sensitivity to Touch
Many children who are sensitive to light touch prefer firm
pressure. This helps to relax them. The following tips will
- Never touch the child from behind.
- When you do touch the child, approach the child from the
front to give a visual cue that light touch is coming.
- When touching the child, use firm pressure on the back or
shoulder rather than a gentle touch.
- Seat the child next to quiet calm children.
- Some children are disturbed by the hardness of the chair.
Allow the child to sit on a pillow on cushion.
- Specific Advice For Children Who Need Extra Sensory Input
- Some children need sensory input to help them to stay
focused. Here are some things you can do to help these
Allow the child to sit on an air cushion pillow that is slightly
filled with air. This allows for movement without the child
leaving his desk.
- Encourage the child to run or climb during recess.
- Give the child tasks requiring sustained repetitive
movements, such as washing the desks or erasing the
- Have these children move heavy objects like rearranging
books or desks.
- Give the child opportunities to move around by making him
your messenger. Let him run notes to other teacher or
to get things the class needs.
- Never discipline the child by taking away recess privileges
or physical education.
Some children do better if they are able to stimulate their mouths
or hands. Here are some things you can do to help these children.
- Let them keep a water bottle at their desks.
- Let them chew on something like a straw or coffee stick.
- Let them keep a small squeeze ball in their pocket.
Some Things to Remember
- Children with multiple disabilities often have sensory
motor integration deficits.
- These children may have difficulty with motor planning
and knowing the position of their body in space.
- These children often have poor balance.
- Being in crowded places and situations makes these
children anxious and uncomfortable.
Children with sensory processing disorders experience the world
differently. They may have extreme discomfort or pain from
sensations that other people might find pleasant. This is a
functional disorder. Remember it is not the child's fault, nor
can he control the problem.
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