Sensory environment


Some children, particularly those with

Autism Spectrum Disorder,

can face a number of challenges many challenges related to the sensory environment of the classroom and school.


Sensory hypersensitivity

Bright lights, loud noises, textures, smells or tastes,

These sensory stimuli can be disturbing and cause anxiety, irritability or discomfort, which can distract them and interfere with their concentration in class.

Sensory hyposensitivity

    • Need more intense sensory stimuli to perceive them
    • Failure to detect certain subtle sensations, which may lead them to seek additional sensory stimuli
    • Be agitated or have difficulty paying attention in class

Sensory regulation difficulties

  • Regulate their reactions and emotions to sensory stimuli
  • Adapt to sensory changes, e.g. from a quiet to a noisy environment.
  • This can lead to overreaction, avoidance behavior or emotional outbursts

Communication difficulties

  • Communicate their needs, preferences or discomforts related to sensory stimuli.
  • Express their feelings verbally.
  • Find appropriate strategies to manage their sensory challenges.

Sensory challenges can distract children and affect their ability to focus and maintain attention in the classroom.

Distracting sensory stimuli can divert their attention from learning tasks, leading to difficulties in organization, following instructions or active participation.


1. Environment design

Quiet areas

Quiet zones in the classroom allow children to retreat to recharge their batteries and relax.
These areas can be equipped with cushions, soft carpets, dimmed lamps and other soothing elements.

Reducing visual stimuli

Screens or panels to reduce visual distractions in the classroom.
This can help children to focus more on the task in hand.

Noise reduction

Soundproof floor mats, soundproof panels or earmuffs to reduce ambient noise.

Lighting control

Blinds or curtains to regulate classroom brightness or adjustable lighting options for children sensitive to bright light.

Graphics tablets

Graphic tablets enable children to write or draw with a stylus on an electronic surface.
This allows them to experience a different writing sensation, and can offer greater precision.

2. Use of sensory tools

Weighted cushions

Weighted cushions or weighted blankets help children feel secure and calm by providing proprioceptive sensory stimulation.

Noise-cancelling headphones

Earmuffs or noise-cancelling headphones for children who are sensitive to ambient noise. This can help them reduce unwanted noise stimuli and concentrate on their tasks.

Sensory balls

Anti-stress or sensory balls for children who need to manipulate objects to concentrate or relax.


Textured mats or tactile surfaces for children who need tactile sensory stimulation to calm or concentrate.

3. Sensory regulation techniques

Breathing techniques

Deep breathing techniques, such as abdominal breathing, can help children to calm down and refocus when faced with disruptive sensory stimuli.

Sensory breaks

Regular sensory breaks during the day, when children can take part in soothing activities such as listening to soft music, manipulating sensory objects or gently rocking. This will enable them to relax and regulate their senses.

Relaxation exercises

Relaxation exercises included in the daily classroom routine, such as gentle stretching, simple yoga movements or guided meditation sessions. This can help children manage anxiety and promote a state of calm.