Making Sense of Sensory Issues – How to manage heightened senses at home and in the classroom

Presenter: Michelle Miller, Psy.D.
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Dr. Miller described different types of sensory issues and how they can present themselves. She discussed how sensory problems affect children and adults and how occupational therapy can help many issues. Dr. Miller also discussed organizational changes that can be made in school to help and how parents need to be and can be advocates for their children.


  1. NJCTS says:

    In a public school setting, middle and high school, what strategies can we offer to students to help them academically? And who should provide these strategies?

  2. NJCTS says:

    What is the first thing I should do if I think my child has a sensory processing disorder?

    • Dr.Miller says:

      I would speak to your pediatrician first about your concerns and discuss a referral to an Occupational Therapist.

  3. NJCTS says:

    When my child is upset from being overstimulated, is there anything I can do to help him calm down?

    • Dr.Miller says:

      Yes, placing them in a setting that is calming for them based on their individual sensory needs is important. For example, if your child is overwhelmed by loud noises and gets upset after hearing an alarm, you can then direct them to a quiet room to sit in. Ideally, you should plan for dealing with overwhelming sensory events when they are calm. That way your child will know ahead of time where to go and what to do with little direction from you.

  4. NJCTS says:

    With EXRP in OCD treatment, if the the person achieves “success” the person MUST continue to to EXRP otherwise risk relapse. With sensory only issues, is their also relapse prevention required or is it once and done?

    • Dr.Miller says:

      Relapse prevention strategies, such as problem solving for handling future sensory overwhelming events and reviewing what was learned in treatment, can be helpful with sensory treatment too.

  5. NJCTS says:

    Who should I talk to at my child’s school about his sensory problems?

    • Dr.Miller says:

      The child study team and/or the school psychologist are the people who would help you with creating any formal plans in the classroom to address sensory issues, as well as to communicate with the school staff about your child’s individual needs. I would also reach out to their primary teacher yourself to ensure that the person who is most in contact with your child has the most up to date information.

  6. NJCTS says:

    Would auditory FM receivers in the classroom work well for children with hypersensitivity to sound?

    • Dr.Miller says:

      There is no research that I am aware of on that topic, only in the use of FM receivers with auditory processing disorders. That doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t be effective, only that there is no scientific evidence to support it at this time.

  7. NJCTS says:

    I have a 15 year old kid who has aspbergers. When he’s studying, he likes to have me sit with him and stay silent and very still. I wish he could work more independently, and especially that I didn’t have to stay so still. Any idea? Also, he did ask me for a weighted blanket, but is concerned that he won’t be able to touch the *fabric* because there are so few fabrics that he can touch. Any idea about how we could deal with that? (I do have him on a waiting list to go see an OT!)

    • Dr.Miller says:

      I would need to know more about why he wants you to sit with him to help answer your question. If it’s a sensory issue related to needing contact and he’s not comfortable with a weighted blanket, you could look into a weighted vest. An OT would be very helpful in creating a plan to meet his individual needs so that’s great that you are reaching out to work with one.

  8. NJCTS says:

    Dr. Miller, could you recommend any books for teachers to gain a better understanding of sensory issues (in layman’s terms)? We have a book club in my school and I’d like to recommend some resources that help teachers understand the difference between a “difficult / hard-to-manage child” versus a student who is overwhelmed by sensory issues.

    • Dr.Miller says:

      Dr. Lucy Miller has two books on sensory issues in children that may be what you are looking for. They are: “Sensational Kids: Hope and Help for children with Sensory Processing Disorder” and “No Longer A SECRET: Unique Common Sense Strategies for Children with Sensory or Motor Challenges.” You can also find other sensory issue books just for teachers at this site: http://spdfoundation.net/books.html#teachers