Helping all children become happy learners

Managing Hearing Needs


The sound levels in everyday life including classrooms can vary considerably. This can present challenges for those with sensory processing needs involving hearing. It is therefore important to make adaptions in order to support these children.


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.

If you have access to a soundfield system use this. These ensure that the teacher's voice is evenly broadcast across the classroom and avoids changes in pitch and volume caused by teacher head movements.

Try to reduce background noise before giving instructions and explanations.

Seat these children close to the dominant speaker e.g. teacher.


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. Listening to music can also be used to provide a sensory break at times when the child does not need to listen.

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

A soundfield system can reduce a teacher's need to raise their voice and create an even pitch and volume across the classroom.

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