One of my sensory problems was hearing sensitivity, where certain loud noises, such as a school bell, hurt my ears. It sounded like a dentist drill going through my ears. ~ Temple Grandin
All this sensory input, which begins in the brain, has its effect throughout the body. ~ Norman Cousins
Over the past twenty years I have been in education we have become much more attuned to the needs of our students who struggle with sensory integration. Sensory Integration Disorder, in an over-simplified nutshell, is a neurological condition that causes individuals to struggle to integrate sensory signals. Often these signals feel significantly more intense for those with SID.
SID manifests in many different ways among children. Some children will only eat foods of a certain texture – the other textures offend their senses so greatly they can immediately trigger a gag reflex. Some children find that any loud noises can cause them great discomfort – these children like quiet classrooms and teachers and struggle with more active, loud, classroom environments. Students with SID can be miserable all day because a clothing tag is bothering them and they just cannot focus on anything else.
I have a cat with SID. It has been really interesting to watch her. She struggles with some food and she does not like to be held or touched, unless she initiates the touch. She freezes in terrible discomfort when my children show her affection – my other two cats love it, she cannot wait for it to be over.
Sometimes, sadly, I think I am more sensitive to my cat’s SID than many educators are to our student’s SID. It is critical that we reach out in empathy, compassion and understanding. It is imperative that we work to create ways for students with SID to feel comfortable in our schools and classrooms. I find that our students with SID can tolerate seemingly intolerable sensory situations when we stand by their side and support them step by step.
Today, 119 days ’til 40, I am thankful that our community embraces all of our students and works to meet their needs where they are at.