A Sense of Play
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A child needs to feel happy for them to thrive in a school environment. Children have personal and complex needs that should be well understood to help them feel happy, comfortable and ready for learning. This study aimed to investigate the challenges for children affected by sensory processing difficulties (SPD) in a mainstream primary school and explore how teachers may be better equipped with knowledge and resources to support these children. The benefits of tactile/sensory objects for children with sensory processing issues should be widely recognised within the context of school. Teachers should acknowledge that sensory objects can be used as tools to regulate behavioural and emotional disruption. This design-led research set out to explore how teachers may utilize sensory objects to help children with sensory processing difficulties reconnect socially and academically within a school setting. An action research approach was used to analyse current solutions within this space, engage with experts (occupational therapists), collaborate with teachers, and act upon findings through iterative making methods. The designed outcomes include a ‘toolkit’ of sensory objects intended to help support teachers in mainstream school who manage children with SPD. However, its usage may prove to help children with other diagnosed conditions and learning difficulties. The research highlighted the challenges of SPD within the context of school for both children and teachers and set a precedent for future design-led research in this area. Furthermore, it makes a compelling case for utilising sensory objects as a teaching resource.