A therapeutic preschool program is designed to provide additional structure and support for children who are still developing pivotal skills, including speech and language or social skills. As a result, children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), sensory processing issues, or other developmental delays might find great benefit in this type of program. In order to accommodate the unique learning styles of all children in a classroom, it is important for teachers to limit the potential for sensory triggers in the classroom.
If a child experiences sensory issues, a classroom has potential for overstimulation, but there are many ways for a therapeutic preschool program to adjust the classroom environment accordingly.
Here are common sensory triggers in a classroom that therapeutic preschool programs should be sensitive to when planning their classrooms:
Fluorescent lighting: This type of lighting can be too extreme for many children, particularly those with visual sensory issues. Therapeutic preschool teachers might consider using alternative types of lighting, even using individual lamps, rather than overhead lights (that provide a softer glow).
Clocks that make noise: The sound may be soft, but if a child has auditory sensory issues, a clock ticking may be a sensory trigger.
Window treatments: If classrooms allow in a lot of natural lighting, children with visual sensory issues may be triggered by this excessive lighting.
Chairs: Children tactile sensory issues may be extremely uncomfortable in a typical desk chair in a classroom. In order to accommodate the unique sensory needs of children, it may be helpful to have special sensory cushions for chairs, bean bag chairs, etc.
Writing utensils: Children with tactile sensory issues might find typical pencils or crayons uncomfortable or triggering. Try incorporating special writing utensils for children with sensory issues (there are different options on the market).
These are just a few common examples, but there is such a wide range of sensory issues that children with autism or sensory processing disorder can experience. It is impossible to anticipate the potential needs of 100% of students in a therapeutic preschool program, but teachers can adapt their classrooms accordingly, in order to meet the unique needs of their students.
One way to do this is by keeping open communication with parents. While the instructors are experts in their field, parents are the experts on their children. Before a child starts in a therapeutic preschool program, it can be helpful for the parents to meet with the teacher to provide information about their child’s sensory issues.
If you think a therapeutic preschool program could help your child with sensory issues, contact CST Academy at 773-620-7800 to learn more about our therapeutic preschool program for children that offers ABA therapy, feeding therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy in Chicago.