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Sensory Processing Disorder

How can the tutors support children with
Sensory Processing Disorder

What is Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)?

We use our 8 senses: visual, auditory (sound), tactile, olfactory (smell), gustatory (taste), vestibular, proprioception and interception, to help us perceive and understand the world around us. This is called ‘sensory processing’. Sensory processing refers to the way our nervous systems and brains automatically absorb information and then organise it to decide how to react or feel.

For some children and adults however, this brain functionality isn’t as automatic as it perhaps should be. The brain recognises the senses but doesn’t respond or interpret them properly. 

How might SPD affect my child's learning and development?

 Effy, specialist tutor, further explains that SPD is: a condition that impacts a person’s ability to process and organise sensory information correctly. Under this condition, individuals present with impaired behavioural and motor responses that affect learning, coordination, adaptive behaviour, language and participation in functional daily life routines and activities.

Sensory difficulties are a frequent feature in Autism Spectrum Disorder and they may lead to stress, anxiety or even depression. According to epidemiological studies, there is a high prevalence of Sensory Processing Disorder among children. Approximately 5-15% of children meet criteria of Sensory Processing Disorder.

Children with sensory processing challenges can have difficulties with processing sensation from tactile, auditory, visual, gustatory, olfactory, proprioceptive, and/or vestibular systems.”

What’s life like as a child or adult with sensory processing disorder or SPD?

With years of experience, many adults with sensory processing disorder or SPD have learned how to adapt or discover self-regulation strategies to help them cope with certain situations. For example, some people with sensory processing disorder or SPD may seek calming music to help them relax while others seek busier environments with a slight buzz to help them focus. Adults can often make the decision for themselves as to what suits them best at any given time.

But what about children with sensory processing disorder or SPD who perhaps haven’t had the experience to work out what works or doesn’t work for them?

Regardless of which category your child falls into,Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) can have a profound impact on your child’s behaviour and learning. The good news, however, is that the right support can make all the difference.

How can we help your child with sensory processing disorder (SPD)?

Your specialist SEN tutor can provide your child with holistic and bespoke 1:1 learning sessions at your own home or school. After developing an understanding of their specific needs, they will advise you on a number of effective strategies and interventions that they would like to try throughout the sessions. These will depend on the age of your child but some fun ideas include using sand to learn about letters or numbers, playing twister to learn spelling and sight-words, or illuminous light boards to teach phonics or spellings.

How can we enhance your child’s learning whilst also supporting their sensory needs?

Your SENsational Tutor can provide your child with a holistic session, i.e. teaching English, Maths, Science or other subjects alongside providing sensory provisions, perhaps as recommended by an occupational therapist (OT). Does your child have a sensory diet? We can certainly integrate this into the sessions. Furthermore, you can trust your specialist tutor to incorporate fun activities such as using cars to teach Maths number bonds to 10, and to recognise the need for brain breaks and focused-attention activities to ensure that your child gets the most from their sessions.

My child loves music, art and drama. Can these be incorporated into the sessions?

Absolutely. Your specialist SEN tutor may also be able to use their musical and creative talents to stimulate and excite your child to learn. Many parts of the English curriculum can be taught through drama, and for some children, this is an easier way for them to access their learning. Drama is also perfect for developing reading expression and fluency, and it can also be a powerful way to boost confidence and self-esteem. Kelly and Lucy are qualified SEN tutors who both work with children with sensory and auditory processing disorders.

With 15 years’ experience as a special needs tutor, Kelly mentions that, “when working with students who have Auditory and Sensory Processing disorder I have a toolbox of techniques that ensure lessons are fruitful and productive. From ensuring the appropriate environment with no distractions to using a range of visual stimuli for sessions, I create a calm learning environment. A patient approach to teaching is required and my sessions are clearly organised with regular repetition of concepts and check-up questions to ensure each task is understood. Using recognisable routines and having clear transitions supports my teaching and builds up confidence in my students’ learning journey.

Alongside Lucy’s her teaching qualification, she is also a certified coach and examiner at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts. She teaches English and Maths through a multi-sensory, immersive and creative learning approach and integrates music, drama, art and performance into her sessions. She mentions that, “I favour a multi-sensory and individualised approach to my teaching and am committed to unlocking the potential of each and every child in a supportive, nurturing and engaging way – through the use of personalised learning plans, individual targets and confidence-building skills. I offer active, learning-through-play sessions that follow the interests of a particular child and use my love of drama, music and story-telling to further explore these learning concepts and bring my sessions to life.

"SENsational Tutors is a fantastic company and provides an impeccable matching service. The tutor that I selected has changed our life for the better and we will never look back. Most importantly, my child who has autism, dyslexia and sensory needs, loves his sessions and believes in himself. His confidence in himself has been restored, and I honestly couldn’t be happier.”

"SENsational Tutors was an excellent resource for finding a qualified tutor with experience and training in sensory integration and development. They provided multiple candidates for consideration as well as personalised advice on who might be the best fit for our son."

Tutor Spotlights


As a qualified teacher and having worked as a special needs tutor for the past 15 years, Kelly has provided many families with bespoke tuition to support and enhance the education of children.

She explains some of the strategies and interventions she utilises when working with students with sensory needs.

A flexible approach, with engaging and enjoyable sessions:

“I have a flexible approach to teaching and ensure my lessons are engaging and enjoyable for every student. When working with students who have Auditory and Sensory Processing disorder, I have a toolbox of techniques that ensure lessons are fruitful and productive.”

A calm and appropriate environment:

“From ensuring the appropriate environment with no distractions to using a range of visual stimuli for sessions, I create a calm learning environment. A patient approach to teaching is required and my sessions are clearly organised with regular repetition of concepts and check-up questions to ensure each task is understood. Using recognisable routines and having clear transitions supports my teaching and builds up confidence in my students’ learning journey.”

Personalised and tailor-made lessons:

“Using personalised techniques for each and every student, I ensure my sessions cater for every learning style and building strong, trust-filled relationships, enables my learners to feel secure in their development.”


Effy is an experienced and highly trained teacher in Special Educational Needs. Over the last decade, Effy has worked extensively with children and young adults with a range of diversified SEN profiles.

Effy is committed to making a real difference to the lives of her students and their families.

Effy’s experience working with children with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD):

My experience working with children with sensory processing deficits has taught me that these children present with heterogeneous sensory profiles, and as a result they benefit from a highly personalised support plan that aims to provide them with a unique learning experience on the basis of their strengths, interests and needs.

Effy’s approach working with children with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD):

Before I start working with a child with sensory processing issues, I carry out a thorough assessment of their sensory profile, needs and skills. Following this, I proceed to plan and develop a support plan that is specifically tailored to my student’s sensory profile. Depending on each case, I provide appropriate support that effectively addresses my student’s sensory needs. As a general rule of thumb, each one of my lessons are underpinned by the following set of principles:

  1. A consistent routine and boundaries to be set.
  2. A visual timetable, visual task board or checklist to be provided.
  3. Opportunities for the child to have breaks during the session.
  4. Instructions to be given in small steps and tasks to be broken down into small achievable steps.
  5. Additional time to be given to process language and complete tasks.
  6. Environmental considerations to be taken into account, such as lighting, noise, etc.
  7. Planned support to be provided when there is going to be a change to the normal routine.
  8. Where appropriate and/or necessary, additional support to be considered, such as use of fidget toys, weighted blankets, etc.
  9. Where appropriate and/or necessary, a sensory diet to be implemented. However, this needs to be in agreement with the child’s Occupational Therapist.
  10. Positive reinforcement to be provided throughout the session.

Effy’s top tips for parents and carers who have children with SPD:

Parenting a child with sensory processing difficulties can be challenging at times. Having worked with a number of families that face similar challenges over the past decade, I highly recommend that parents create a list of daily activities that can be a source of discomfort for their child. For example, everyday activities, such as bathing, getting dressed, eating and dental hygiene can cause discomfort, stress and may lead to sensory overload. Identifying potential sensory triggers that can cause sensory overload is one of the first steps in helping to cultivate a sensory-friendly environment.

Additionally, parents should avoid forcing their child with sensory processing difficulties to attend noisy or busy environments. Parents should allow their child to take the lead and decide whether they can cope in such settings.

Finally, when it comes to a sensory meltdown, it is undoubtedly beyond a child’s control. Armed with this knowledge, parents should not react with anger or frustration. On the contrary, they should stay calm and direct their child to a designated safe place where their child can self-regulate and calm down.

Without a doubt, caring for a child with Sensory Processing Disorder demands a lot of energy and time. During this lifelong journey, it is important that parents show patience, embrace the unique aspects of their child’s sensory profiles, help them make informed choices, and advocate for their child’s individual needs.  

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