Ask the Experts

Q: “How Can I Set Up Sensory-Friendly Spaces at Home for Online Learning?”

An online learning environment can be tricky for easily distracted students with ADHD, auditory processing disorder, and sensory issues. Here’s how you can help set up a home work space that works for your child.

Q: “My child who is learning at home needs quiet space due to auditory processing and sensory disorder. What is best workspace considering I have three kids at home?”

I’ve been inundated over the last few months with questions like this from parents trying to set up effective working environments for their children. Clearly each student comes to the table (literally) needing a different home learning environment to compel their best work.

1. I would sit down with your daughter to discuss her options! While sitting at a desk or table, alone, in a quiet room might be the old school go-to, we can get super creative when finding unique work spaces to fit her needs. Could she sit on a yoga ball? Work at a standing desk?

[Read: The Most Useful ADHD Accommodations and Modifications for Distance Learning]

2. Invest if you can in a pair of noise-cancelling headphones. With these, she can move around the house freely and get the quiet she needs to focus.

3. Does she prefer sitting at the table with her siblings because it provides her with a much-needed energy boost, but seeing them is too much sensory stimulation for her? If so, then outfit her with an inexpensive three-sided tabletop presentation board to block her view while sitting at the table. This way she has privacy while reaping the benefits of being near her siblings.

4. Play “Hide the Homework.” Hide your daughter’s homework in different locations around the house that are quiet. Wherever she finds the homework is where she does it. So think science in the bathtub (my favorite as it’s small and cold and sensory seeking); vocabulary in the pantry closet; math on top of the toilet. She’ll be working in spaces that work for her while infusing some fun along the way. A win win!

5. Work outside when the weather is warm enough to do so. A small table and chair set up in the garden might give her the quiet respite she needs.

Good Luck!

Online Learning: Next Steps

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