Children who require occupational therapy often respond improperly, intensely, or ineffectively to sensory stimuli. While everyone employs “adaptive responses” to spontaneous smells, sights, and noises, children in need of occupational therapy are often preoccupied in responding to stimuli, which threatens their ability to function effectively in the classroom or elsewhere. Some children enact inefficient, visceral responses – a child who is sensitive to loud noises may cover their ears or counteract with their own noise.
That said, no two sensory systems are alike – some of us respond more harshly to sounds, visual stimulus, movement, touch, and smells than others. This doesn’t mean any child should persist in the classroom without the skill set to balance their sensory reactions with assigned work or peer interaction. Children who continually think and rethink their reactions can’t focus on learning.