Teaching students with sensory needs involves the provision of highly individualised programs and activities that directly target:
Communication and language development – developing multimodal models of communication for all students, including foundation communication skills such as pointing or using deliberate communicative gesture as well as Key Word Sign, AAC and developing a rich, appropriate and meaningful vocabulary with a focus on key, power words. D.I.R models are used to develop early social awareness and social communication skills.
Personal and interpersonal development – through programs that offer a positive approach to new experiences that are engaging and provide students with opportunities to regulate their sensory needs and develop concentration, problem solving and planning.
Physical development - classroom programs are designed to ensure that students are presented with appropriate resources and opportunities to develop their fine and gross motor skills, planning and movement abilities.
All learning activities are cross-curricular, to support students to generalise and transfer concepts and skills. Multi-sensory learning programs are embedded within the curriculum and are structured across the week to ensure high levels of engagement for students and to maintain a balanced sensory experience across daily timetables. Sensory play programs may be theme related (tying in with term sensory stories and programs such as All About Me, Winter Warmers or In the Summertime) or stand-alone sensory play programs with direct learning goals.
Programs are tailored to maximise staffing levels across each session and to target 1:1 and small group work. Programs are designed with different levels and learning targets and students are allocated to specific activity groups based on learning needs, interests and sensory modulation requirements. This ensures that engagement is maximised and opportunities for success are highly supported.
DIR Floortime is a significant feature of teaching and learning when teaching students with sensory needs as well as within the wider school teaching context. DIR is the Developmental, Individual-differences, and Relationship-based model; a comprehensive framework to understand and support child development across social-emotional, cognitive, and communication domains. We use DIR as a core teaching tool that is integrated within the curriculum by focusing on the total child, especially their ability to build emotional connections and interact in meaningful social interactions as the basis for all learning.