Legal Aspects The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) states that children determined to have disabilities receive special education services if the condition negatively affects the educational performance of the child (IDEA, 2004). As noted, a child with SPD can display serious signs and symptoms that can affect the performance of the child in an educational setting. Therefore, children should be given special education services when it impacts a student’s educational performance. Characteristics Sensory processing disorders can often be recognized when a child is young, usually around the age of a toddler (Arky, 2021a). Parents may notice the child being antagonized by stimuli such as specific amounts of light, frequencies of sounds, adherence to certain food textures, or struggling with fine motor abilities such as properly holding and using a crayon. Lucy Miller (2009), the founder of the first Sensory Processing Disorder research program in the United States, explains SPD as a diagnosis based on the child’s ability to detect and adapt to sensory stimulation, if there are noted disturbances in the ability to adapt, and how severely the lack of adaptation affects the child’s daily life. Research published in Cogent Medicine by Dr. Adrian Galiana Simal from the University of Madrid found a link between SPD and a higher risk of depression and psychopathology (Galiana Simal, et al., 2020). It should also be noted that up to 60% of children with SPD also have been diagnosed with ADHD (STAR Institute, n.d.) Social Benefits For students with SPD, interacting with others can be difficult. Issues recognizing social cues, understanding emotions, and poor social problem-solving skills can cause students to be isolated frompeers (John, 2021). Recess provides an environment inwhich students can learn how tomanage their SPDwith and around peers and form a community (Binder, 2021). Students learn behavioral norms and social expectations through observation, experience, and peer relationships. Building knowledge of how to interact with others is important for socialization and the student’s sense of self. Recess, when organized and appropriately run, promotes cooperative play, which helps students with SPD practice regulating their own emotions and recognizing the emotions of others. In addition, playing and conversing with peers helps build social and physical confidence and sharing skills (Binder, 2021). The primary benefit of recess is socialization, as it can be one of the only non-regulated social times of the school day (Kovar, 2012). More often than their typical peers, students with SPD will less likely be involved in a social activity that is centered outside of school or home (Suarez, 2012). Physical Benefits Students canusemultiple outlets during recess to either stimulate or calm their senses based on what they need. Children each deal with their senses and react to different environments in unique ways (Thompson, 2013). Recess provides a time to do physical activity and play, which can focus the mind of an overstimulated

child, preparing them for return to the classroom (Thompson, 2013). For a child who may be understimulated, recess provides a time for stimulating activities. This time can be utilized to stimulate senses by participating in games, socialization, using playground equipment, and other activities. Academic skills can also be integrated into recess, for example, practicing counting while jumping rope or sketching letters with chalk on pavement. Children with sensory processing disorder can have difficulties with spatial relations, balance, and processing the amount of force they are using (Arky, 2021). Recess provides the opportunity for a child to practice and improve these skills independently, with other students and teachers. Other professionals, such as occupational therapists, can offer exercise ideas, games, or pre planned activities, to increase the likelihood that the students get sensory exercise or rest, whichever is deemed most appropriate for the student (Arky, 2021). Modifications It is important to remember that SPD is neurological - not cognitive. When reading the following modifications, it is also important to note that the needs of children with SPD may include properly performing skills while also knowing how their bodies are situated in relation to others. Cosbey, Johnston, and Dunn (2010) recommended three potential goals when working with children with SPD: (a) identify activities that bring joy and meaning to the individual child, (b) strategize ways that the child can successfully engage in the activity, and (c) use these activities to build his or her social circles with peers.” The authors recommend the following modification during recess for children with SPD. However, it must be remembered that these modifications are not appropriate for all children with SPD. Decisions should be based on the individual needs of the student. • Supply a variety of balls for activities of different sizes, colors, and textures to allow a student to choose which is most comfortable for them. • Allow the student to move away from any loud noises, including a game that other children are playing. • Consider using earplugs with soft music that the student enjoys or noise-canceling headphones. • Interact with the student while displaying proper behavior; this includes eye contact while speaking, correct social distancing, and correct tone. • Develop an alternative method for the student to communicate with a partner or the teacher when the student is uncomfortable in a particular situation. An example would be the use of simple sign language. • Remove any excess stimuli. • Allow the use of a “cool down pass” for the student to leave an uncomfortable stimulus. • Assist a student in being included in a recess activity, then remove yourself and observe the student’s level of participation. • Always have activities that the student has shown comfort with as an alternative choice.


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