Dear Jacqui, I am a teacher and have read your article on Sensory Processing. Please could you tell me more about sensory circuits for children?

A child usually requires an initial screening by a Sensory integration trained therapist, usually an Occupational therapist. This can be done at a Joint Clinic with myself.

Sensory circuits aim to develop appropriate responses to sensation in an active, meaningful and fun way so that the child behaves in a more functional manner. This will generalise across home, school and social settings.

First, the Alerting section is to provide vestibular stimulation preparing the brain for availability for learning. Activities include: jumping on the trampette, bouncing on the gym ball, skipping and jumping jacks. The Organising section comes second and includes activities for multi-sensory processing and balance. The child needs to organise their body, plan their approach and do more than one thing at a time in a sequential order. This can include balancing, remembering a number and hand, repeating a sentence, then throwing a ball to knock over a numbered skittle. The Calming section must come last. It provides deep pressure i.e. through squashing to ensure the child leaves the circuit and returns to class in a state of calm and ready to attend to learning. A circuit takes fifteen minutes.

Sensory processing and sensory integration improves in children who have done sensory processing activities with speech and language therapy. There is also improvement in attention, speech, language, social-emotional communication skills, listening and literacy skills.