Sensory Integration in the Special Education Classroom

I am a huge fan of sensory integration in my classroom. Sensory integration gives my students what they need, allowing them to feel better, behave better, and learn better. The more I teach students with significant disabilities, the more I understand how important sensory integration is. It has truly changed the dynamics of my classroom.

I know that some teachers are not a fan of sensory integration in their classroom because they believe it is messy, they believe it requires additional staff, or because it is unconventional.  

With that said, here are some tips and trick to integrating sensory techniques into the classroom! 

                              

How I Incorporate Sensory Techniques into My Classroom:
1)   Morning Sensory Spin: Every morning, we do attendance, find our names or write our names, and sing each student a song. While we are singing about a particular student, we allow that student to either spin in my desk chair or bounce on the yoga ball. This allows EVERY student in my classroom to receive some sensory input to start off his or her day. I have found that almost every student loves spinning in my desk chair and many love bouncing on the big yoga ball. Last year, we also had the option of jumping on the trampoline while we sang.

2)   Sensory Seating: This is a common one. I have yoga balls that the students can sit on. I allow my students to sit on their chairs backwards. This allows for them to receive pressure on their abdomen without moving their desk across from leaning on it. They lean on their chair instead of the desk. I also have seat cushions that my students are allowed to sit on. See the list of tools/equipment for more ideas.

3)   Sensory Center: I had a sensory center last school year. I had eleven students and five aides, making for a very busy classroom. In order to cut down on volume and distractions during centers, I had one of my wonderful aides run a sensory center outside. The center consisted of riding scooter boards up and down the ramp outside, spinning in the spinning cone, tossing balls back and forth, writing with chalk, and blowing bubbles. My students loved it. This year, my sensory center will be during free choice time. Instead of having free play, I will be focusing on sensory input (bouncing on the balls, rolling on the peanut ball, and spinning in spinning cone).  ***Additionally, I HIGHLY recommend the books listed below for ideas for you sensory center or for P.E.

Spinning Cone, a favorite in our classroom

4)   Sensory Break: Some of my students require more sensory input than others. For those students, I allow them to have a planned sensory break during their instructional day. This is more personalized and direct sensory integration. It looks different for each student.

5)   Movement Breaks: Typically, during a 30-minute group lesson, we take 3 dance breaks. We love GoNoodle in my classroom. This allows for my students to receive visual, auditory, and physical stimulation. Also, I try to incorporate movement into my daily activities (rotations, flag salute, music, and etc.) We repeat the same videos over and over again. This helps with skill development, confidence, and even speech (they can sing along if they know the song). 

6)   Quiet Time: After recess and lunch, times that have a large amount of sensory stimulation, I make sure to give my students a break. After recess, we sit and watch educational YouTube videos and songs while we eat our snack. After lunch, we sit and watch Signing Time. Many of my students just need a few minutes to unwind and relax before moving on to direct instruction. 

7) Sensory Boxes: I recommend creating sensory boxes for those students that need fidgets or sensory tools throughout their day. Each student can have a box filled with whatever sensory tools they need (putty, puzzles, lip whistles, etc.) Sensory boxes are especially helpful for oral motor tools, helping prevent the spreading of germs and saliva from student to student. Remember to clean oral motor tools every day and keep them clean and dry when storing.

Sensory Tools/Equipment that I Love: (click on the words for Amazon purchasing information)

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Sensory Resources that I Love:

THESE TWO BOOKS ARE AMAZING! I HIGHLY RECOMMEND! 
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