Sensory Portraits

Newsletter September 2015


Many children within school have unidentified sensory processing and motor coordination difficulties which result in a variety of behaviours, for example with: concentration; handwriting; following instructions; and social skills.  Often these behaviours are misunderstood and these children may be labelled as ‘naughty’, ‘disruptive’ and ‘manipulative’.  Research has shown that children do not ‘grow out’ of these problems as was previously thought.  These difficulties can lead to emotional, social and mental health difficulties in teenage and adult life.  Recent research has shown that between 20 – 50 % of men in prison have a specific learning disability.

To illustrate the types of difficulties that these children may experience, here are three sensory portraits (taken from Sensory Balance (2006) by Erna Blanche.)  Do any of these children ring bells with pupils in school or your children at home, or maybe yourself?

Don’t Touch Me Maria

Don’t Touch Me MariaMaria is a sporty girl who enjoys PE and outdoor activities.  She often plays with the boys in the playground.  She hits out at other children and has been called ‘aggressive’ and a ‘bully’.  Maria was a very unsettled baby.  She didn’t like being touched or hugged.  She struggled with weaning onto solid food.  She is still a very picky eater. She has to have all the labels cut out of her clothes.  She is very fussy about the clothes she wears.  It takes her Mum ages to persuade her to get dressed for school in the morning. She hates having her hair brushed and washed and refuses to go to the dentist.  She won’t stand in line at school and finds it difficult to sit near other children.

Three Thumbs Henry

 Three Thumbs HenryHenry likes quiet sedentary activities such as playing computer games, reading books and playing indoors with his toy soldiers. He never gets picked to be on anyone’s team for ball games.  He prefers to stand at the edge of the playground and watch his friends play football.  He is a very messy eater.  He can’t do up his buttons or tie his shoelaces.  His handwriting is very untidy and illegible. Granny says he is ‘clumsy’ and ‘cack-handed’.  Dad thinks he is ‘lazy’ and just doesn’t try hard enough.

Turbulent Tom

Turbulent TomTom is constantly on the go.  He never stays still. He constantly rocks on his chair at school. He is up and down from his chair spinning and twirling himself around the classroom. He never gets dizzy.  He spends all playtime charging round the playground. He has a trampoline at home and spends hours after school bouncing. He loves going to the park and climbing on all the equipment, swinging on the swings and going on the roundabout. Tom is often described by people as a ‘real livewire’ and has no sense of danger.  He has poor balance though and is unable to ride a bicycle.  He has problems concentrating in class.


Sensory Balance (2006) Erna BlancheSensory Balance (2006 ) Erna Blanche

This book is a very useful quick reference guide for parents and professionals (only 32 pages) to help recognise sensory processing problems. It provides five sensory portraits of different types of sensory processing disorders for example ‘Three Thumbs Henry’ ‘Don’t Touch Me Maria’ and ‘Turbulent Tom’.

Dyspraxia is a PainDyspraxia is a Pain
Poignant poem written by a 9 year old with dyspraxia.



Why Love Matters (2014) Sue Gerhardt

Why Love MattersWhy Love Matters ‘explains why loving relationships are essential to brain development in the early years, and how these early interactions can have lasting consequences for future emotional and physical health.’ This is a fascinating book on neuroscience, emotional and social development, and parenting.  A must read for professionals working with babies and young children. May be too hard hitting for some parents to read.

The Neuroscience of Human Relationships (2014) Louis Cozolino

The Neuroscience of Human RelationshipsAn in depth book on social neuroscience exploring neurophysiology and psychology.  This is a fascinating and very informative read for those who want to explore the relationships between the brain, mind and development. I would suggest reading ‘Why Love Matters’ first, especially if you do not have a background knowledge in neuroscience.


Autumn Term Courses

All the courses are held in Clitheroe, Lancashire and are open to teachers, professionals and parents. Applications are now open for all courses and an online application form should be submitted.  There are two reduced price parent places on each course on a first come first served basis. All courses are also available as INSET or in house training, please contact us  for further details and prices.

Introduction to Sensory Integration and Sensory Processing Disorder (Sensory Course 1)

More about this course

Tuesday 20 October 2015

Some people don’t behave as we expect them to – not because they won’t, but because they can’t.  Inefficient processing of sensory messages that come from their body and environment often cause this unexpected behaviour.  These people may withdraw from physical contact, refuse to participate in typical classroom and playground activities, or respond in an unusual way to ordinary sensations such as touch, movement, sights and sounds. The aim of this one day course is to provide teachers and health professionals with an understanding of sensory processing disorder and the everyday difficulties the children experience at school and at home. Practical support strategies will be explored from both an educational and therapy perspective.  Two reduced price parent places available on this course.

Setting Up Motor Programmes in Schools

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Tuesday 10 November 2015

Many children in education have not developed the basic motor skills that lay the foundation for academic learning to take place.  Research has shown that by developing children’s foundational motor skills, through motor programmes in schools, progress is seen in academic and learning skills such as handwriting, reading, hand-eye coordination, concentration and attention. The aim of this course is enable school staff to identify children with motor learning difficulties and equip them to set up appropriate individual or group  motor programmes in school. The course also gives staff the necessary tools to screen children’s motor skills so enabling potential problems to be detected early in the child’s school life.

Sensory Strategies for Children with Sensory Processing Disorder (Sensory Course 2)

More about this course

Tuesday 24 November 2015

The aim of this one day course is to enable teachers and health professionals who have attended the Introduction to Sensory Integration and Sensory Processing Disorder course to extend their knowledge on sensory integration and sensory processing disorder.  The major focus of this course will be to give participants the understanding and skills necessary to identify and analyse sensory behaviours, and then to set up appropriate sensory strategies within home and school. Two reduced price parent places available on this course.