Co-constructing a sensory audit tool to adapt the physical environment to primary school children's sensory needs

Project Details


Schools are a place where children feel before they learn, and ensuring their optimal social and emotional development is essential to build the foundations for learning (Massonnié & Thomas, 2022). Whether the school environment provides sensory stimulation that matches children’s needs in terms of intensity, frequency and predictability is important to their wellbeing (Jones et al., 2020; Hazen et al., 2014). This is particularly true for children with special needs such as autism and/or ADHD, conditions characterised by a hyper or hypo reactivity to sensory stimulations (DSM-V, 2013). Too often, children’s sensory perception and adjustment are reported by their parents or teachers (e.g. Fernández-Andrés et al., 2014; McDougal, 2019). There is a critical lack of child-centred measures, particularly with regards to classroom acoustics (see reviews from Mealing, 2022, 2023) and classroom design (Tola et al., 2021). There is a need for more individualised evidence-based interventions tailored to the sensory needs of specific children with tools to evaluate their effectiveness (some inspiring examples: Dynia et al., 2023; Hummerston & Parsons, 2022).

We will co-create a sensory audit tool with schools to assess and adjust the physical environment in response to children's needs.

This is a TRIF (Theme Research & Innovation Fund) 2023/2024 Award funded by the University of Portsmouth - £10 000 

Layperson's description

We will work with primary school teachers and children to map out how they use the school space and suggest concrete and cost-efficient ways to adapt the physical environment in response to children's needs.
Effective start/end date1/08/2331/07/24