Thornhill Primary School

Sensory needs

What are senses?

We all process and interpret information received from the environment and from within our bodies. This information gives us a sense of who we are, where we are and what is happening around us.

Our senses are: sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell, proprioception (body awareness), vestibular (balance and movement) and our interoception sense (internal body sense).

How do our senses work?

When our senses are working correctly we can respond to any sensation, for example, we are able to take off an itchy jumper or take a deep breath to smell the flowers, notice when we are hungry or need to use the bathroom.

What happens to children with sensory difficulties?

Sometimes the senses may not work correctly and a young person might have difficulties in managing how they respond to sensory input.  

For example:

- the noise of the school bell is like someone screaming in their ear

- standing in the queue at lunchtime makes them on “high alert” in case someone brushes past them, which can be painful

- getting changed for PE is very difficult because of poor balance and not knowing where their hands are to put their jumper on when they can’t see their hands.

A young person may move constantly to get extra feedback if their body is not providing enough information as to where their arms and legs are. This is difficult in the classroom when they need to keep still and write. Most people get used to their own sensory preferences and can make choices about their daily activities appropriate for them.

 However, children may struggle to communicate how they feel. They may feel insecure or be disorganised in a world they cannot make sense of.

These children need support from those around them to learn strategies to make life a little easier.

 How do I know whether my child has sensory difficulties? 

A sensory checklist has been developed to help parents and schools identify potential sensory difficulties in children. The link to the checklist is attached below. You can complete it and share with the teachers or the school SENDCo if you have any concerns

Click here to access the checklist