SPD And Success In Schools

Can your child succeed in school if he or she has a sensory processing disorder?  Your child barely has the attention span to complete his or her homework, much less, sit through an entire class.  Does your child fidget throughout the school day and is exhausted by the end of the day?

It is essential to remember that this is not willful misbehavior on your child’s part.  Instead, it is your child’s way of coping with their sensory processing disorder.  School is difficult, and your child is having a tough time getting through much of the day, much less trying to retain anything he or she is being taught.  However, the good news is that kids can learn skills that will help the brain process stimuli better and this can make an enormous difference in improving school success.

If you don’t fully know what a sensory processing disorder is, or you do and suspect that your child may have one, please visit my website  jasonmillerhealth.com com and watch my video titled “top 10 signs your child has a sensory processing disorder.”  It’s a great resource that will most likely answer many of the questions you might have.

Suppose for a moment that you already know that your child has a sensory processing disorder, but your child is still struggling at school.  Most likely, you have learned how to help your child be successful at home, but the classroom isn’t your environment you’re your child is still struggling.  The classroom environment belongs to your child’s teacher.  If your child is struggling in school, then it is likely that you are already in regular contact with your child’s teacher.  If not, then you need to begin reaching out.  There is a strong possibility that your child’s teacher is struggling with your child’s behavior, and therefore, this is a great time to collaborate with the teacher.  Your collaboration with your child’s teacher will be the key in improving your child’s overall learning experience, as well as help him or her learn the academic content.

What can be done at school?  There’s no medication that can help with a sensory processing disorder, but there are strategies and practical changes that you and the teacher can make at school, that will help your child feel and do better.


Where, and also what, your child sits on throughout the day can have a big impact on their sensory processing.  Children who move around in their seats or have trouble sitting still, are often called sensory seekers.  They may fidget, rock back and forth, wiggle around or constantly get up out of their seat.  These behaviors are distracting to the teacher and other kids in the room, but they are also distraction to your own child.

The hard chair your child is sitting in may not be providing the input that your child needs.  He or she might need something more.  My favorite “seat” is a dyna disc.  A dyna disc is a little cushion with some extra texture, and it is extra wobbly to give the child some extra input.  Research suggests that the reason your child is moving around so much, is to get the extra sensory input he or she needs in order to remain alert and focused.  These little dyna disc cushions allow your child to move about in a more appropriate way, which is less distracting to the teacher and class, but also not as distracting for themselves. They’re great, affordable and can easily be purchased online.

Chewing gum

If you’re my age or older, it is likely you were told not to chew gum in class.  However, you may be surprised to know that this particular rule has been greatly relaxed by many schools, as the benefits of gum chewing are becoming more apparent to teachers, especially those who have sensory kids in their class.  Your child may need input from his or her jaw.  Chewing is movement and your child needs movement as much as possible.  Do you know a better way to get movement that is small and largely unnoticeable by everyone else?  Of course, certain rules have to be followed, but if your child needs sensory input, chewing gum is a great way to get it.


Another great tool to assist children with sensory processing disorders is Theraband.  Just like the dyna disc, Theraband can easily be found online, and it is fairly affordable.  Theraband is wonderful for children who need a lot of proprioceptive input, but still need to stay in their seats.  Just tie it into a loop and suspend it tightly between the legs of your child’s chair.  This gives your child something to push against with his or her legs, giving your child the chance to move in a minimal and much less distracting way.

You’re probably thinking, “my child’s teacher isn’t going to let him chew gum in class or use any of these things!”  But don’t count the teacher out without talking to them first.  Remember that just as parents are desperate to curb sensory behavior at home, teachers are desperate to get sensory children to learn, and with that desperation comes a willingness to try anything new.  I have worked with hundreds of children throughout my career, but I have also worked with many of their teachers.  I have never come across a teacher who would not try something new.  So, I encourage you to talk to your child’s teacher and together come up with a plan that will help your child be successful.

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Jason Spear Miller
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