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Using planning wheels to support your child with sensory differences

Slide 1 - Introduction

Slide 2 - Aims:

  • Understanding the benefits of planning wheels
  • Understanding the application of planning wheels

Slide 5

  • Always listen-reflect back- check you have understood

Slide 6 - I'm a Sensational Child

That is I have Sensory Processing Difficulties.  That just means my brain can't process sensory information the right way.  When my brain gets information through any of my senses - sight, smell, hearing, taste, touch vestibular or proprioception - it doesn't always know what to do with that information and I become disorganised and confused.  Sometimes I overreact to this sensory input and sometimes I don't react enough.  This makes it hard for me to function at school, in public and even at home!  I might have trouble learning or making friends.  I might be really shy and withdraw from everyone, even my own mum!  I might have trouble coping and have a lot of tantrums and meltdowns.  I might be afraid of a lot of activities that children usually enjoy.  It can be really tricky!

So, Do you know me?  Or maybe someone like me?  Well, there are a lot of things you can do to help me.  Being patient and understanding is a great place to start!  It helps to understand why I respond as I do and how you can help me to make my life a little bit easier!

Slide 7- Typical Sensory Differences

Do you know me?

  • I dislike having my hair washed, brushed or cut
  • I have 'selective hearing' or difficulty hearing
  • I cry and shield my eyes from the sun and other bright lights
  • I resist new foods and textures
  • I complain about tags in my closing
  • I seem to be unaware of normal touch or pain:  I often touch others too hard
  • I hate being tickled or cuddled
  • I have poor motor skills, such as running or riding a bike
  • I always walk on tiptoes
  • I have trouble focusing and/or concentrating
  • I am overly sensitive to loud sounds such as vacuums and blenders
  • I am always smelling people, food and objects
  • I chew on everything
  • I have poor fine motor skills, such as handwriting and cutlery
  • I have difficulty dressing myself
  • I sit with my legs in a 'W' position
  • I put my socks on 'just so' or maybe I go barefoot

Slide 8 - All about your child

Slide 11 - The Benefits of Planning Wheel

  • Goal or behaviour
  • Parent Professional
  • Identify challenges


  • Environment
  • Task structure and grading


  • My child will get her hair ‘right’ so we won’t be late for school
  • Easily overwhelmed by stimumi - eg: Deep pressure strategies
  • Grading - Building the task up gradually
  • Adaptation - eg: Use a soft brush
  • Posture - eg:  Sitting down  to be more stable
  • Friends hair styles/cartoon characters/pop star
  • Location – for example brush hair in the bedroom
  • Follow visual schedule
  • Use music as a timer

Goal monitoring - Environment - Task structure and grading

Slides 13/14/15 - Goal monitoring

Goal - what is difficult? 

  • Observe and record
  • What do you want to achieve?

Task structure and grading

  • Motor skills
  • Posture
  • Responses
  • Current interests
  • Sensory Strategies
  • Grading the task
  • Adaptations


  • Distractions- noise, lights, temperature, time, location
  • Using pictures, prompts
  • Use music, movement

Slide 16 - see slide 12

Slide 17/18/19 - Your turn to complete your Planning Wheel for your child


  • Be consistent
  • Be persistent
  • Pick your battles

Slide 20 - In summary...

  • We all have different sensory needs. However, it is only when these affect us living the life we want to or impacts on our ability to perform day to day activities that it becomes problematic.
  • As parents/carers/teachers we can facilitate children in recognising these sensory needs and give families tools such as the Planning Wheel.
  • Having a tool such as the Planning Wheel helps to give children and young people an element of control over their daily activities, reduce anxiety and develop confidence and self-esteem.

Slide 21 - Reading List

  • Understanding your Child’s Sensory Signals: Angie Voss
  • The Out of Sync Child: Carol Stock Kranowitz
  • Max and Me- A story about sensory processing: Ines Lawlor and Blanca Molto

Slide 22 - More Information

Slide 23- BLMK Occupational Therapy services

Paediatric Occupational Therapy Department
Redgrave Children and Young People's Centre
Redgrave Gardens
Bedfordshire LU3 3QN
Tel: 01582 708141

Paediatric Occupational Therapy Department
Child Development Centre
Hill Rise
Bedfordshire MK42 7EB
Tel: 01234 310274

Paediatric Occupational Therapy Department
Child Development Centre
Milton Keynes Hospital Campus
Standing Way
Milton Keynes MK6 5NG
Tel: 01908 724600

Slide 24 - Thank you
A special thank you to all our partners who worked in collaboration and partnership to create this video.


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