Understanding 10 SENSORY Related BEHAVIOURS and HOW They IMPACT LEARNING Made Simple

  1. Enjoys his/her own company away from other children often finding it emotionally challenging to be around others.
  2. Finds it easier to work and play and generally be calmer when   “away from” the  presence and noise of other children engaged in the business of learning or play.
  3. Does not yet understand the idea of “Personal Space” both their own and that of the children around them.
  4. Has yet to settle to complete an activity; is always moving about, flitting from one activity to the next without completing a task.
  5. Constantly seeks sensory stimulation through touching and squeezing things, rubbing against different textures or rolling on a particular surface such as carpet, cool tiles, grass, sand etc.
  6. Is his own social director, not needing others with whom to play or interact.
  7. Is still developing the concept of play including how to play and share with others.
  8. Has issues tuning into YOUR channel when you are speaking, instead seems to be listening to and following their own ‘channel program’.
  9. Appears to find it easier to learn/remember when sensory seeking behaviour is being satisfied.
  10. Likes to focus on what they want to investigate or learn NOT what others want them to learn.
  • Becomes emotionally distressed resulting in tantrums and other unsettled behaviours (e.g. sensory seeking behaviour such as self stimulation or self harm).
  • Challenging behaviours inhibiting learning, with heightened anxiety having the potential to negatively impact on the individual’s emotional state and learning.
  • As emotional stress increases “Escape” behaviours may escalate with associated risk to self and others.
  • Increased potential of becoming socially isolated because of peers’ perception of possible challenging behaviours as well as individual’s deliberate avoidance of others. 
  • Manifestation of “inappropriate” i.e. socially challenging sensory stimulation behaviours in order to “fence out” what the individual perceives as the unwanted/annoying stimuli from “the outside world”. These include efforts by others to interact/talk to or teach the individual.
  • Individual ONLY interacts on their terms or chooses to NOT interact at all.
  • Rigidity of behaviour and or interest evident as the individual’s means of coping with their emotional state.
  • Management of external stimuli to allow on task focus and task completion.
  • Provision of re-direction or distraction to shift focus
    • away from inappropriate behaviours
    • to the required topic/activity.
  • Situations structured to assist with understanding of Personal Space and how to approach others.
  • Introduction to the concept of “Play” through graduated structured activities.’
  • Provision of activities to develop and practice social skills across a variety of situations.
  • Satisfaction of sensory seeking behaviours in order to facilitate learning.
  • Understand the concept of task completion.
  1. An identified safe area away from others with the fabric providing a ‘safety’ fence and/or their ‘wall’ of protection.
    Child may retreat to MyBurrow® to reduce surrounding visual sensory stimuli
  2. Assistance in providing sensory feedback resulting in reducing the child’s level of excitability/anxiety.
    Adult direction used to guide the child through appropriate sensory feedback activities. Direct teaching of how to interact with MyBurrow®. Demonstration of how to interact with MyBurrow® through both adult and other children modelling.
  3. Facilitation of the concept of personal space via the use of MyBurrow® as the child’s personal space.
    – Child to complete activities/tasks in MyBurrow® (teaching idea – photograph of child placed in MyBurrow® to reinforce the concept of his personal space).
    – Demonstrate the end of personal MyBurrow® time by removing the individuals photo and placing it in another space e.g. desk/bedroom.
    – A specific teaching of personal space– reinforcing the size of  personal space/group space – how many can be in one space.
  4. Use the access to MyBurrow® as the motivator..
    – Use of Myburrow® used to foster motivation to engage in play activities with others.
    – If child is not engaging with on task or task completion MyBurrow® is lifted away.
  5. Use MyBurrow® as the place where sensory seeking behaviour occurs. Develop understanding of sensory feedback through MyBurrow®
    – Provide swaths of different sensory materials and objects to explore within MyBurrow®.
    – Interaction with MyBurrow® may be through on surface contact within surface contact and jointly within surface contact with other sensory objects and materials.
    – The sensory feedback from the MyBurrow® material may be adjusted by increasing or reducing the width.
  6. Structured play activities: The number of children that the individual interacts with can be adjusted according to the size of MyBurrow®. 1, 2, 3.
    – MyBurrow® based activities used to structure the idea of interacting with another while in the limited calming space of MyBurrow®. Structured sensory play activities while in MyBurrow® e.g. rolling a ball under MyBurrow® across and back to another person. (individual activities 2 students side by side rolling. 2. exchanging ball).
    – Sequenced activities while under MyBurrow® take turns crawling / rolling across and back inturn and taking turns. This can be further extended by having exchange of an object e.g. tag ball.
    – Modelling and scaffolding of play activities while on/under MyBurrow®.
    – Structured social language can be introduced during these activities.

Helena Smith wrote this blog post for MyBurrow. If you have had the privilege to have Helena involved in your child’s education you have had an educator who not only has a lifetime of experience and degrees but also a passionate advocate.  An advocate who loves, cares for and appreciates your child’s own gifts and talents. 

Helena’s qualifications include:

Dip.T (Primary),{University of Qld}; B.Ed.St, (Remedial Education), {Uni of Qld}; B.A.(Psychology), {Deakin University}; Dip.Soc.Sci. (Psychology),{Uni of Ew England}; M.Ed.(Sp.Ed), {James Cook Uni of North Qld};M.El.Ed.(Guidance & Counselling, Curriculum & Instruction), {Uni of Hawaii} and the winner of the Rotary Foundation Teachers of the Handicapped award for 1982.   

As MyBurrow grows it is my mission to provide useful information and resources for families and educators.

I’m sure you will find MyBurrow and accompanying resources useful in your setting.

Kind regards,
Dimitra Baveas


Dimitra Baveas

Dimitra Baveas - Creator or My Burrow; B.SpEd (Griffith University)

Dimitra Baveas was teaching in Queensland schools when her own daughter began to struggle in the classroom. Observing the immediate positive impact on her daughter’s focus and learning skills at the conclusion of each Occupational therapy session; she recognized the need to link the immediacy of these gains into the classroom learning process.

By including therapy into the learning processes, Dimi’s aim was to foster greater generalization of positive therapy outcomes and the subsequent improvement in academic, social and emotional development. Dimi’s recognition of the need to build a bridge between therapy outcomes and in-class learning processes provided the inspiration for the creation of not a “bridge” but a burrow, ‘MyBurrow®’.

Since the launch of MyBurrow® physiotherapists, occupational therapists, clinicians, teachers and parents in schools, clinics and hospitals around Australia have attested to the positive impact of MyBurrow®.  Teaming up with Helena Smith {retired G.O.D – Guidance Officer (Developmental)} MyBurrow® now produces lesson plans and other supplementary resources available upon signing up to our newsletter at

Helena Smith

Dip.T (Primary),{University of Qld}; B.Ed.St, (Remedial Education), {Uni of Qld}; B.A.(Psychology), {Deakin University}; Dip.Soc.Sci. (Psychology),{Uni of New England}; M.Ed.(Sp.Ed), {James Cook Uni of North Qld}; M.El.Ed.(Guidance & Counselling, Curriculum & Instruction), {Uni of Hawaii} and the winner of the Rotary Foundation Teachers of the Handicapped award for 1982.