Sensory Processing

Understanding and supporting sensory processing in an education context

Identifying Sensory Processing Needs

We would consider a child to have sensory processing needs when their sensory processing starts to impact on their ability to participate in everyday activities, to engage at school or to spend time with friends. However, just because a child processing sensory input in a different way doesn’t mean it’s not helpful

e.g. a child might flap their hands when excited – this a really good way for the child to regulate

and it doesn’t mean we need to change the child……….often, making changes to the environment is more successful for improving how a child engages in daily activities.

In assessing sensory processing needs we need to consider the following questions:

  1. What purpose does the child’s behaviour serve (are they seeking something or avoiding something)?
  2. When does the behaviour happen and what’s the outcome?
  3. Is there something in the environment that is contributing to this child’s needs?
  4. What changes can we make to the child’s environment that might help?
  5. What can I do to help the child get the input she is seeking or to remove the input she is avoiding?


Identifying a Child or Young Person’s Sensory Needs

The following questionnaires from the NHSGGC KIDS website will help you assess the needs of the pupils you are supporting. Your answers will generate strategies and ideas relevant to the pupil’s developmental level. The questionnaires are available in 3 different age ranges. If the pupil you are supporting is aged between 12 and 18 they may wish to complete the questionnaire independently or with your support.

Visual Questionnaire

Hearing Questionnaire

Touch Questionnaire

Smell and Taste Questionnaire

Body Awareness Questionnaire

Movement and Balance Questionnaire


Assessing the Educational Environment

Use this audit tool to consider some of the environmental factors which may be contributing to a child or young person’s sensory processing needs and small changes that can be made in the setting you work.



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