Happy Learners - Managing Sensory Needs - Hearing

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Hearing (Audioception)

Strategies to support children with sensory needs involving hearing


Children who are hyposensitive to sound have a much higher threshold before they perceive sounds. They are under-stimulated by audio. Strategies that can support them include:

Use visual reminder of good listening rules - encourage good eye contact to support their lip reading. (All sighted people benefit from using lip reading to support their listening though they are usually unaware of this.)

Cue the child in by name before giving explanations and instructions to class

Use musical instruments such as bells, triangles, tambourines or wood blocks to gain class attention. Outside use whistles

Speak slowly and clearly and give instructions one at a time

Soundfield systems help carry the teacher voice evenly across the classroom and avoids changes in pitch and volume caused by teacher head movements.


Children who are hypersensitive to sound have a much lower threshold before they perceive sounds. They can become quickly over-stimulated in busy environments likes classrooms, playgrounds and shopping centres. They may also react differently to everyday sounds, behaving like the average person would to a extremely loud and intrusive or unexpected noise. Strategies that can support them include:

Seat children away from intrusive sounds such as projectors, computer fans, doorways and windows

Prepare children in advance when planning noisy activities - let them use ear defenders

Classrooms with carpet, blinds and lower ceilings help to reduce sound reflecting back of hard surfaces

Listening to music on headphones can be useful in reducing the intrusion of backgound noise

Provide opportunities throughout the day for sensory breaks - quiet activities - sit in quiet space

A soundfield system can reduce teacher need to raise voice and create an even pitch and volume across the classroom

You may also be interested in the following pages:

Managing Sensory Needs - Sight


Cheng, M., & Boggett-Carsjens, J. (2005). Consider Sensory Processing Disorders in the Explosive Child: Case Report and Review. The Canadian Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Review, 14(2), 44–48.

Laurie, C. (2013) Sensory Strategies London: The National Autistic Society