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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
Potential signsCovering ears when others not. Potential impactUnable to concentrateStrategies to assist with learning
Potential signsComplaining that noise is painfulPotential impactImpacts upon engagement with activities that involve high levels of noiseStrategies to assist with learningEar plugs / ear defenders / headphones (should only be worn for 30-40 minutes at a time)
Potential signsDifficulty filtering out general background noisePotential impactDislike of noisy environments. Strategies to assist with learningConsider positioning in class
Potential signsPotential impactStrategies to assist with learningGive warning of predicted noise if possible
Potential signsFlight/fight type reactions seen in noisy environmentsPotential impactFear of certain environments Strategies to assist with learningReducing overall noise levels
Potential signsPotential impactStrategies to assist with learningQuiet areas for concentrated work
Potential signsPotential impactStrategies to assist with learningCheck the classroom/hall/dining area acoustics and consider acoustic solutions such as acoustic clouds.
Potential signsPotential impactStrategies to assist with learningOffer options for small group work or direct teaching to reduce background noise.



Potential signsPotential impactStrategies to assist with learning
Potential signsDifficulty listening to and following instructionsPotential impactStrategies to assist with learningUse the child’s name to engage them
Potential signsCan be slow to respond to questions or their name being calledPotential impactStrategies to assist with learningAllow time for a response
Potential signsCan often appear to not hear noise or be unresponsive to loud noisePotential impactStruggle to follow instructionsStrategies to assist with learningGive instructions in other forms of media – such as visual
Potential signsDifficulty pronouncing words, using prepositions and sequencing verbal instructionsPotential impactConfusion as to what is happening and what is expected of themStrategies to assist with learningGain eye contact while giving instructions
Potential signsCan struggled to focus on foreground noise or to block out background noisePotential impactPoor memory recallStrategies to assist with learningRequest 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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