School and sensory overload

A child’s sensory overload can be similar to a fizzy drink bottle. This fizzy drink gets shaken up more and more throughout the day due to certain triggers and stressors.


The triggers that children, particularly those who have experienced early trauma, come into contact with in a school day may be significant.  These may include the noise, moving between classrooms, having the correct equipment available, changes of key teaching staff, unstructured times during breaks, and difficulties with peer relationships.


Throughout the day these stressors keep “shaking the fizzy drink”, and the pressure inside continues to increase.


Parents may experience the ‘lid’ exploding off their children when they come home from school due to the pent-up pressure.


If this sounds familiar, there are a few hints and tips below that may be helpful to try.


  • Give your child a chewy or crunchy snack as soon as you see them.  Both of these types of foods give sensory input that can help aid emotional regulation.
  • Give your child a drink in a sports bottle – the sucking action also aids regulation.
  • Do something unexpected on the way home.  Maybe an unexpected trip to the park for a quick run around (swings can be very good at soothing sensory overload)
  • Ask the school to give your child some sensory breaks throughout the day.  Maybe suggest sensory toys in the classroom that can be available to your child when they need them.
  • Ask the school if there is a quiet space that your child can access for a sensory break during the school day