Neurodevelopmental help: Sensory skills

Sensory skills involve the senses of smell, touch, vision, hearing, balance and proprioception (where your body is in space) and taste. Our sensory skills constantly work together alongside our motor skills to understand and process the world around us.

Children often develop their sensory skills during their early life experiences. For example, being involved in messy play and feeling the different materials, splashing in the bath to make bubbles as well as squashing items of food before they eat it. As adults we continue to see the impact of our sensory preferences each day. For example, we all will have some preferences such as liking smells such as cut grass or petrol, preferring hot or cold weather or eating spicy verses non-spicy foods. We all use our senses every day and this helps us to seek out things we like as well as avoid things we are less keen on.    

For children and young people with neurodevelopmental needs we are beginning to understand more and more how they may make sense of the world around them and organise all of the sensory information they receive each day. Like the examples above of adult preferences, we may see children and young people seeking out certain sensations. For example, spinning to get movement feedback or covering their ears when something is loud or unpleasant sounding to them. Children and young people, like adults can be under or over sensitive to a range of stimuli. Unlike adults they may not be able to remove themselves from a situation as easily so they may benefit from adjustments being made.

The resources on this page are to try and help adults supporting a child or young person’s sensory skills. The resources include leaflets, video clips, webinars and courses that you are able to attend. They all provide support and can be accessed when they may be needed.

This page was last updated on 5 July 2023

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