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The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

Gareth D Morewood

Case study: sensory audit using assess, plan, do review

Sarah Calvert, SENCO and inclusion coordinator at Oakwood Integrated Primary School, developed a sensory audit using the assess, plan, do, review model with three autistic pupils.

The children

Child A has been diagnosed with autism, dyslexia, dyspraxia and has difficulties with speech and language; Child B has been diagnosed with autism and ADHD and Child C has a diagnosis of Asperger’s.

Each child has a variety of support in place at school from literacy and numeracy support, sensory sessions, 1:1 social communication sessions and peer group sessions.

All three children have very different sensory needs and the aim was to gain a better understanding of each of their individual needs and use that knowledge to adapt their learning environment to provide the best personalised support.

Personalised approach

As the provision was tailored to be personalised for each individual child, Sarah decided that she wanted the children's voice to be central to the project; specifically their thoughts on senses in relation to the school environment.

This meant that Sarah needed to find a way to present their opinion of the school environment from their daily experiences.

Child-friendly sensory audit

At Oakwood I.P.S they run sensory room sessions which give children an awareness of the seven senses, sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste, proprioception and vestibular. However Sarah decided to base her audit on the commonly known five senses as through these the children could still describe their proprioception and vestibular senses.

To complete the sensory audit, Sarah looked at various existing audits and then created her own child-friendly version. Sarah added visuals and changed the wording of the pointer questions so that if a child was to read the checklist it would appear as simple as possible for them.

Following this, Sarah spent time with each child individually; together they completed a sensory walk, exploring the school and discussing each of their senses in relation to the environment.

They were accompanied by their classroom assistant, to act as a scribe recording answers but also providing additional insight into the responses that were given.

Responses, changes and strategies

From the responses that the children gave certain changes were made, starting as small as seating plans to investigating how to change the tone of the school bell.

A range of strategies were also discussed that the children can implement themselves into their daily routine. The children were also brilliant at offering alternative suggestions or explaining strategies which they have already adopted to help them with their school day.

Measuring progress

After the changes had been in place for two weeks Sarah gave each child a response form based on smiley faces linked to each sense and they coloured in the appropriate face depending on how they now felt.

Sarah wanted a simple but effective way to measure the progress that had been made, in a child friendly way. The responses have allowed a further insight into the children's thoughts on the school environment and how this can affect their senses.

This was found to be an extremely beneficial project as it has allowed Sarah as the SENCO to provide a better learning environment for each of these individuals and educate other staff as to specific needs.

Really inspiring projects developing

The detail outlined in the post highlight one of the exciting projects that were developed from the training – feel free to use the resources developed by Sarah for free.

More to follow, as we support emotionally regulated school environments in schools and provide resources that can be adapted and used in your settings; watch this space!

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