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

The vestibular system is the balance sense.  It tells us:

  • where the body is in relation to gravity for example, when you are spinning, jumping and swinging
  • whether we are moving or standing still
  • how fast we are going and in what direction
  • where our body is in space.


(over sensitive)

Potential signsPotential impactStrategies to assist with learning
Fearful reactions to ordinary movementsMay try to control and manipulate events to avoid stressful sensations. This can look like uncooperative behaviourThis can be more difficult to work on as it requires a graded desensitising approach with guidance from an appropriate professional. However proprioceptive input can help greatly
Can appear clumsyCan often seek physical support from an adultStaff will need to be aware of difficulties and not insist on children engaging in activities that they percieve as fearful as this can lead to flight and fight or negative reactions. Instead differentiating activities is important.
Difficulty climbing or descending stairs or hillsRegular accidents from clumsiness
Apprehensive about walking on uneven surfaces
Motion induced sickness such as fairground rides and cars
Fear of heights or of feet being off the ground



Potential signsPotential impactStrategies to assist with learning
Seeking intense movement experiences such as body whirling, jumping or spinning, crashing, being upside down and runningDifficulties concentrating and making academic progressRiding bikes, trikes and horses
Some children can appear clumsy, with difficulty coordinating both sides of the bodyCan delay speech, reading, writing and visual perception (as can all sensory processing difficulties)Using outdoor play equipment
Move and sit cushions
Bouncing on a gym ball
Regular movement breaks such as running errands
Extra play times, gym trails, space hoppers, scooter boards and spinning dishes

Last reviewed: April 26, 2023 by Jenny

Next review due: October 26, 2023

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