Shropshire Council

Supporting Children and Young People with Sensory Difficulties

06 July 2021 Last updated at 11:08

As occupational therapists we know that sensory needs can affect children’s participation in the activities they need, want or are expected to do but there are different ways to address these. We currently offer advice and support to parents and education settings for supporting children with sensory difficulties through our advice line and opt -in parent education workshops. You can find out more about our service on our website.

We have recently launched our Facebook page alongside pages being developed for Children’s Physiotherapy Shropcom Children's Physiotherapy - Home | Facebook and Children’s Speech and Language Therapy services. 

The Occupational Therapy service does not offer a service providing sensory assessments and we are not able to provide Sensory Integration Therapy.

We have put together some ‘Top Tips’ from our parents’ education workshops and we have included links for the resources we find most useful when working with parents and educators.

Calming Activities at Home

When the young person is over-stimulated and feeling anxious these activities/strategies may help them feel calmer (from ‘Making Sense of Sensory Behaviour’)

Quick fix

  • Sitting under a big, heavy blanket.
  • Hands on head and pressing down.
  • Tucking legs up and squeezing.
  • Deep pressure massage.
  • Slow rocking e.g. rocking chair.
  • Giving themselves a hug.
  • Lavender scents
  • Squeezing and relaxing a small fidget toy.
  • Squeezing and relaxing face and/or hands.
  • Snuggling into a small space.
  • Sucking a “sweet” sweet.
  • Sucking yoghurt/thick milkshake through straw.
  • Bear hug.

Longer lasting ideas

Long term routine calming activities may be part of the day.

  • Walk after coming home from school (with backpack on).
  • Press ups or chair press ups regularly through the day e.g. before school, lunch time, after school.
  • Allow chill out time, prior to homework in a daily routine.
  • Help with moving furniture e.g. pushing sofa – relocating plant pots, hoovering.
  • Help with heavy manual tasks in the garden e.g. digging.
  • Put on a heavy coat or heavy blanket over the shoulders as part of chill out time.
  • Have a corner with favourite sensory activities to go to at any time.
  • Squeeze/rock against gym ball.

Occupational Therapy resource pack

Please see resource pack at bottom of the Shropcom Children’s Occupational Therapy page.

 (P17 of pack refers to sensory difficulties)

Falkirk resource booklets

These are easy to read and provide lots of practical ideas to support your child, including  

  • Life skills for little ones – A Practical approach at home for parents and carers. (also teenage version)
  • Making sense of sensory behaviour – A Practical approach at home for parents and carers.
  • Autism booklet
  • Aspergers booklet (and teenagers version)
  • Making sense of your sensory behaviour’ - easier to begin to understand child’s sensory processing if understand own first. Also parent needs to ensure that regulated before supporting child to self-regulate.

You can access these booklets here.

Further reading

  • ‘Raising a Sensory Smart Child: The Definitive Handbook for Helping Your Child with Sensory Processing Issues’ Lindsay Biel
  • ‘Too loud, too bright, too fast, too tight, what to do if you are sensory defensive in an over-stimulating world’. Sharon Heller
  • Sensory integration information booklet for parents and therapists. ISBN 09545340-8
  • ‘The out of sync child’ – recognising and coping with sensory integration dysfunction’. Carol Stock Kranowitz (1998)
  • ‘Living sensationally- Understanding your senses’ Winnie Dunn

Relevant websites