Carolina Biological OSE - December 2023


Forums / Elementary Science / Sensory Issues

Elementary Science

Sensory Issues

Author Post
Bethany O'Clair Bethany O'Clair 80 Points


My name is Bethany O'Clair and I am a pre-service teacher at Wartburg College in Waverly, IA. I am currently working towards a special education endorsement and have been thinking a lot about ways to incorporate science in my special education classroom. Knowing that some students have sensory issues and that science classrooms can be distracting, what are some ways to reduce the distractions for students? Also, what are some hands-on activities that would be good to incorporate whilst avoiding potential sensory issues?


Thank you in advance!

Bethany O'Clair

Pre-service Teacher

Wartburg College

Kiana Wilson Kiana Wilson 2065 Points

Hi Bethany! My name is Kiana Wilson and I am a pre-service teacher at the University of Northern Iowa studying elementary and special education as well! Sensory issues are something that we have talked a lot about in my special education classes but I haven't thought a lot about how students could have sensory issues with science. In special education, all we talk about is differentiation and creating environments for our students to feel safe, capable, and successful. When teaching content to students with disabilities I don't think this really changes, I think it becomes more important. For example, if a student has a sensory issue with sounds and we're exploding something in science I would not make the student participate. Maybe I would record the experiment and then play it for the student with little to no sound. I believe it is all about creating positive learning environments for the student and knowing the student's needs and being able to differentiate and accommodate for that. 


Hope this helps! 

Kiana Wilson

Kristine Pasker Kristine Pasker 2875 Points

Hello Bethany,

My name is Kristine Pasker and I am a senior at UNI finishing my degree in Elementary education and my minor in Special Education Strat I.  Sensory is a huge thing to take into account when doing anything.  First and foremost, make sure you know the sensory needs of your students.  You cannot accommodate if you don't know what to accommodate.  Second, I would just make sure what you are doing isn't going to be too overwhelming.  Sensory means more than touch.  If there is too much going on in the room, on the table/desks, etc. this can be problematic as students become overstimulated.  Being someone who has ADHD this can sometimes be an issue for me as well.  In saying that, I would make sure students know ahead of time what you are going to be doing/using so they themselves can prepare for what is going to happen.  Perhaps the day before or a few days before (making sure to tell them each day prior and the day of.)  This helps prepare their minds for what is going to happen and be there instead of being surprised causing internal anxiety and excitement.  For those with light sensitivity, I would maybe make sure lights aren't too bright. For those with texture, make sure you have things that aren't too rough or too smooth.  I am a weight and resistance person, so I like heavy things. For those with sound sensitivity, I would test things first to make sure the noise isn't going to be too bothersome.  Check microscopes, light buzzing, marking squeaking, fernace humming, etc.  Whatever you think could be minor can be a MAJOR thing to those with sensitivity to sound.  I can hear anything and everything, so even the slightest sound can be distracting and annoying.  Hope these ideas can help you in your future endevors.

Post Reply

Forum content is subject to the same rules as NSTA List Serves. Rules and disclaimers