Sensory Processing Differences in the Classroom

Sensory processing differences in the class makes learning challenging.

Never Underestimate A Loud Classroom

When it comes to the classroom, it can always be safe to assume that the maximum level of noise can and will be reached throughout the school day. Whether children get out of hand during snack time or wake up full of energy after nap time, the possibility of a classroom becoming increasingly loud is endless. This ongoing hustle and bustle can be a problem for a child with sensory processing differences.

Neurodivergent children have sensory processing differences, which can make preparing for specific situations or scenarios difficult. These situations can range from learning how to navigate a noisy classroom to self-regulating their emotions or actions in a chaotic moment.

Therefore, it is important to put into understanding their behaviours and comfort levels so that we can help support them where we can while also helping them adjust to their surroundings.

Neurodivergent Children Experience Classes Differently

It may be simple to think of a neurodivergent child going to school just like typically developing students. However, in reality, they are constantly on the lookout for what may disrupt their everyday routines. And what may cause sensory overload.

For intimate spaces like classrooms, it can be even harder to navigate what feels right and what does not. For example, a child with ADHD will see a noisy classroom as a way to let out all of the pent-up energy they have stored, using the noise as an outlet and distracting themselves from the work in front of them.

An autistic student, however, may experience the noisy classroom as being overbearing or disruptive, causing them to pull back their focus from their work and prioritize what makes them feel safe.

What Are Some Issues That Can Arise from Sensory Processing Differences?

Noisy classrooms are certainly not the only area of concern that neurodivergent children have. Below are some ways that these children may experience distress or frustration in a classroom setting as a result of their sensory processing differences:

  • Lack Of Consistent Classroom Routines: For some children, structure and routine are the highlights of their day. They like for things to have a specific place and for tasks to be done by a specific time. When there is a lack of routine, it may cause them to feel uneasy or distracted from their responsibilities.
  • Not Granted Enough Time To Finish Their Work: Keeping in mind that some children require just a bit more time can make all the difference in their classroom experience
  • Uncooperative or Unmotivated Partners: Keeping up motivation can be tricky when paired with someone who doesn’t want to participate in the required activities.
  • Teacher Dismissing Their Concerns/Input: Neurodivergent children often have unique thinking patterns and behaviours, leading their problem-solving skills to be more out-of-the-box solutions. When a teacher dismisses a student’s input in class instead of nurturing it, they might begin to feel discouraged.
  • Strict Or Limiting Rules And Guidelines: Who wants to engage in a classroom where they feel stifled or suppressed?
  • Work that Feels Easy/Unchallenging: When a child is given work they comprehend easily or can finish within minutes, then they will likely search for new opportunities to expend their energy. Ensuring that the work they are receiving is stimulating is one of the best ways that they can remain nourished in the classroom.

How You Can Help Your Child

All of the scenarios above can be adapted to twitch the right preparation and tools. Neurodivergent children that have confidence in themselves will face these obstacles head-on and advocate for themselves daily.

Advocating for themselves can look like active communication of their needs, putting thought into their actions, and working through positive solutions. Working on these small things can make a huge impact on how a child reacts and behaves in an overstimulating classroom.

Additionally, teaching them how to self-regulate at home can be the turning point for them to fully develop their sense of self and independence. While some of these issues are specific to classrooms, the skills that they learn at a young age will follow them well into adulthood, allowing for a well-nurtured teen and adult.

If you are having trouble finding resources to help your child regulate their emotions or want a better understanding of how they may feel in an overstimulating environment, please reach out to our practice today. We can help you find the answers you require to care for your child’s unique needs.

Want to learn more about the link between sensory sensitivities and anxiety? Check out Dr. Buzanko’s podcast episode on this very topic.