Sensory Needs

Here at the School for Autism @ Newfield we try to understand each of our learners sensory differences and strive to help them find ways that they can play and learn to the best of their ability.

It is common for people on the autism spectrum to experience difficulty in processing sensory information.

At the School for Autism @ Newfield the environment is designed to reduce sensory input that our learners may find unpleasant or distracting. We also make sure our staff have training to understand the impact sensory differences may have on learners with autism.

Learners with autism may respond to sights, sounds, smells, tastes and textures in unusual ways.

Some people find certain noises or tastes very unpleasant and take measures to avoid them, like covering their ears or only eating a limited range of foods.

Other learners may seek out various sensory sensations because they find them pleasurable for example, making a lot of noise or eating inedible items because they have a very crunchy texture!

This video shows how sensory experience may feel to someone with autism:

Autism and sensory sensitivity

Most people are very familiar with the five senses:

  • Sight
  • Smell
  • Hearing
  • Taste
  • Touch

We also consider if learners have sensory needs in relation to their vestibular or proprioceptive senses.

Vestibular – the sense related to processing movement and balance Proprioception – the sense related to processing the sense of self in space, it is how the brain understands the position of the body in relation to itself, it’s surroundings and other objects.

All of the learners at the School for Autism @ Newfield have a sensory assessment to help gain a full picture of how their sensory needs affects them. It is then possible to create a specific routine within their timetable to address the sensory needs.

Some of the strategies that may be used include the use of chewy tubes for those seeking oral-motor sensation or move and sit cushions for vestibular seeking learners.

move and sit cushion
chewy tube

Sometimes learners benefit from accessing our specialist equipment to gain the sensory input beneficial to them.

We have an immersive sensory studio which enables learners to experience sights, sounds and even smells associated with different places, for example, a forest.

sensory room

By assessing and addressing the sensory needs of pupils at Newfield School we are aiming:

  • To recognise that sensory needs exist in pupils via a process of observation and assessment
  • To reduce the impact sensory need driven behaviour if it is detrimental to the learner
  • To enhance attention and concentration of pupils through providing structured opportunities to access sensory need and low distraction environments where needed.
  • To reduce barriers to learning which are created by pervasive sensory needs
  • To provide enhanced opportunities for communication and interaction
  • To increase emotional well being of pupils
  • To be part of a whole school approach to health and fitness.

Although each learners individual sensory profile is assessed and supported Newfield School does not offer Sensory Integration Therapy. Sensory Integration Therapy (SIT) can only be offered by a therapist who has undertaken post graduate training in sensory integration therapy.

Newfield School works with a sensory integration trained therapist on a consultancy basis to identify and advise on strategies to address pupils’ sensory.

If you would like help with your child’s sensory needs please contact school for support.

Newfield School
Old Bank Lane
Blackburn
Lancashire
BB1 2PW

01254 588 600

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Newfield School is committed to safeguarding and protecting the welfare of children and vulnerable adults as its number one priority.

Full copies of Policies and Procedures related to all aspects of Safeguarding, and the Complaints Policy, are available on request from Geoff Fitzpatrick, Head Teacher and Designated Senior Lead for Safeguarding and Child Protection.

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Newfield School complies with the general and specific duties of the Equality Act (2010). In accordance with the duty we publish information that demonstrates that we have due regard to the need to;

  • Eliminate unlawful discrimination
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These specific duties have been considered in relation to all our policies and procedures in school. Our objectives will be reported on and published as part of the Governance public documents available for inspection under the Freedom of Information Regulations and Data Protection duties and in the school newsletter to parents.

Our Equality Objectives are set, reviewed and published annually in our School Development Plan.

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