What does sensory regulation mean to you? Maybe it’s the thought process of your morning routine order; brush teeth, shower, get dressed for example. Every person has their own sensory regulation that helps keep their day moving and themselves focused. An article in HubPages.com, “Children’s Behavior- Sensory Processing & Sensory Regulation, A Different Perspective,” discusses this sensory regulation even as the way a person always has coffee in the morning, chews on their pen during a meeting, or even tapping their foot while working. When these things are taken away for some reason a person can feel uneasy and need help re-focusing, and the same thing goes for children. However, very often, when someone sees a child fidgeting or doing something they are “not supposed to be doing,” they assume the child is simply not focused and is behaving that way on purpose.
In reality, the child is just trying to figure out how to refocus and keep his or her day going as “normal.” This regulation is a subject in which many people rely on, and the same is especially true for children on the autism spectrum. “Sensory defensiveness is a concept that can help us better understand self-regulation,” according to the HubPages article. “Each of us deals with multitudes of sensations throughout the day.
Sensations include things we see, hear, and smell. Sensations also include things we feel, including touch and movement.” So when any of these “sensations” are out of the ordinary, that is when a person’s system can overreact and their sensory regulation is jarred.
According to the “Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry” there is a “widespread belief that sensory symptoms characterize autism and differentiate it from other disorders.” These sensory symptoms are not the same for each child with autism, of course. As addressed in the article Interventions and Treatment Options in “Autism Speaks,” each challenge must be addressed with an appropriate therapy. No single therapy works for every child. What works for one child may not work for another. What works for one child for a period of time may stop working.
This is where Marklund Day school shines through. The Marklund Day School has a self-regulation room that contains gross motor activities for sensory breaks including a swing, trampoline, therapy ball, gym mat, stretch blankets, and rocking chair. It also has a Snoezelen room for calming and relaxation that contains special lighting, mirrors, ball pit, bouncy chair, motion table, hand lotions, music, black lights, rope light manipulatives, crash mat, and various hands on sensory items.
Having such a variety of ways to focus on and help attain sensory regulation is an important feature for those schools working with students on the autism spectrum. Addressing the issue and giving options for students is something they will only benefit from and also enjoy.