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Sensory issues and strategies to help: Week 2 (hearing/sound and touch)

Welcome to week two where I will cover hearing/sound and touch. Remember that certain reactions/experiences can be seen as hypo - low sensitivity or hyper - high sensitivity, for some children these can overlap and can also change over time.

Auditory (Hearing/Sound)

Sensory difficulties with hearing can affect balance. Encourage movement activities on a regular basis as movement can help the auditory system process sounds. Games like musical statutes involves movement and listening.

Low sensitivity


They use one ear – Partial hearing

Do not acknowledge particular sounds, like bangs/loud noises/crowds

Scared if don’t know what the noise is

Have music/TV loud


• Music Therapy

• Classical Music

• Can benefit from their name being said to them before anything else

• Give simple instructions and don’t use too many words

High sensitivity


• Distorted, magnified sound

• Problem cutting out noise

• Can’t concentrate

• Sensitive to distant sounds

• May hum or make noises to drown out other sounds


• Reduce outside noises and don’t expect a child to concentrate if there is a lot of noise going on

• Prepare before a situation e.g., crowds.

• Understand that some sounds can be painful

• Ear plugs/ear defenders

• MP3 Players/iPods

• White noise

• Story Tape/Sound Story book

• Regular story telling

• Quiet Area

• Sleep pillow for iPod

Tactile (Touch)

Many of these overlap

Low sensitivity


Holds tightly

High pain threshold

Self-harm (bite hand/base of thumb, bang head)

Enjoy heavy objects on them

Doesn’t respond to messy hands or face

Excessive touching items and other people

Difficulty using scissors, pencils etc.


• Weighted items such as blankets and lap pads

• Heavy blankets/sleeping bags

• Big bean bag pillows

Deep massage

Provide activities that encourage them to find hidden objects, so they are using tactile discrimination e.g., toy cars in sand

Encourage art and craft activities, messy play, water play etc.

If using weighted blankets, it is important to seek guidance re using one, it must be in proportion to a child’s weight and not used throughout the whole night.

High sensitivity


Touch is painful,

Over responds to unexpected touch e.g., when someone brushes past them

Dislikes wearing shoes, socks, gloves, clothing and different textures

Problems brushing hair.

Problems brushing teeth

Problems with washing

Avoids getting messy hands

Dislikes eating with fingers


Warn if need to touch them

Careful with hugs

Make sure children see you before interacting, don’t approach them from behind

Introduce new textures carefully

Allow them to help and control hair brushing, washing etc.

Encourage use of glue sticks, paint brushes etc. and opportunity to wash hands to reduce their anxiety levels when messy.

Look at feeding utensils, are they too heavy, could they cause the child stress? Toothbrush – use disposable ones

Brushing (Wilbarger) therapy


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