Sensory Issues

and Why to Use Sensory Tools

Article by Anna Tullemans

The nature of ASD is such that they:

  • Seek out sensory activities ie chewing, twirling, fidgeting
  • Find specific sensory experiences calming (rocking, flicking, visual patterns, flapping)
  • Students will seek out and find sensory activities equivalents if you don’t provide them.

Why & How to use sensory tools?

Holding an object in their hands can often enhance learning. If used at mat time, and given a Dinosaur ball, the student can

  • sit for longer,
  • is less disruptive to peers, and
  • is calmer to start activities
  • has reduced anxiety levels

Find sensory activities extremely rewarding (unlike stars or verbal rewards)

Replace inappropriate behaviours, that is

  • Replace biting hand with chewy tube
  • Replace difficulty waiting with using a timer

Ideas to try:

  • Have rules. For example, return toys to box at end of mat time
  • Use visual schedules/photos to remind student of rules
  • Use a range of activities and change regularly
  • Use toy as a waiting object (ie: hold the ball until it is your turn for the game)


For students with ADHD and ASD their brain is saying move, move, move. Allowing them to move their body helps them to concentrate and continue working. Students often tell us that they concentrate better when doing something with their hands.