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Part of
Sensory Processing Handbook

The eight senses - guidance for practitioners in Somerset

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Part of
Sensory Processing Handbook

The eight senses - guidance for practitioners in Somerset



information on the nature of sensory processing differences and the impact they can have on children and young people's lives

Somerset SEND CharterWhat is sensory processing?Sensory processing differences or difficultiesInteroception – the eighth senseChecklists and assessments

The sensory system

Safe interventions for both children and young people, and groups


School approaches

Recommendations for creating appropriate learning environments for pupils with sensory processing differences

Whole school approachClassroom strategiesWhat to do if you are concerned a pupil is experiencing sensory processing difficultiesReferring to occupational therapy

What it is

Auditory processing and language skills develop with well organised vestibular, proprioception and tactile systems. Our auditory system processes sound, and language received via our auditory receptor, our ears. The process involved:

  • Attending to sound
  • Receiving information
  • Perceiving and discriminating between sounds
  • Sound association and decoding
  • Remembering what is heard
  • Integration of what has been heard and expressing a response.

Children with auditory processing difficulties may experience difficulties with listening or making sense of the sounds they hear particularly in environments with a lot of background noise.

Please ensure child’s hearing has been checked by a relevant medical professional.



Potential signsPotential impactStrategies to assist with learning
Covering ears when others not. Unable to concentrate
Complaining that noise is painfulImpacts upon engagement with activities that involve high levels of noiseEar plugs / ear defenders / headphones (should only be worn for 30-40 minutes at a time)
Difficulty filtering out general background noiseDislike of noisy environments. Consider positioning in class
Give warning of predicted noise if possible
Flight/fight type reactions seen in noisy environmentsFear of certain environments Reducing overall noise levels
Quiet areas for concentrated work
Check the classroom/hall/dining area acoustics and consider acoustic solutions such as acoustic clouds.
Offer options for small group work or direct teaching to reduce background noise.



Potential signsPotential impactStrategies to assist with learning
Difficulty listening to and following instructionsUse the child’s name to engage them
Can be slow to respond to questions or their name being calledAllow time for a response
Can often appear to not hear noise or be unresponsive to loud noiseStruggle to follow instructionsGive instructions in other forms of media – such as visual
Difficulty pronouncing words, using prepositions and sequencing verbal instructionsConfusion as to what is happening and what is expected of themGain eye contact while giving instructions
Can struggled to focus on foreground noise or to block out background noisePoor memory recallRequest the child repeats instructions to make sure that they understand

Last reviewed: November 29, 2023 by Helly

Next review due: May 29, 2024

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