If your child’s sensory needs are being addressed in the school environment, one assessment that could have been used by your child’s therapist is the Sensory Profile 2, School Companion Questionnaire. This is something that may have been discussed at an IEP or ETR meeting, or while talking to your child’s therapist throughout the year. This questionnaire can be difficult to understand. Why was it used, and what do the results mean?
Today I would like to break down this questionnaire so that you can understand how it was completed and how it was interpreted.
Why use the Sensory Profile 2, School Companion Questionnaire?
This is a form that is filled out by your child’s teacher to help the therapist understand how they react to different sensory input that is experienced throughout the school day. The therapist may try to observe your child in different environments while at school, but they don’t see them as much as their teacher does. The teacher answers 44 questions on a scale of 1-5 (5 being “Almost Always” and 1 being “Almost Never”). These questions are broken down into auditory, visual, touch, movement, and behavior sections. Questionnaire items including statements like, “My student struggles to complete tasks in a noisy setting,” “My student gets too close to others when they are talking face to face,” and “My student is on the go.” Once the information is gathered, it is broken down into 3 different categories: Quadrants, Sensory and Behavioral Sections, and School Factors.
The questions are separated into 5 separate quadrants to determine how your child is reacting to various sensory input.
- Seeking/Seeker- High scores in this area would indicate that your child searches for additional sensory input throughout the day. This could include behaviors like additional movement, touching objects in their environment, and watching people move around the room.
- Avoiding/Avoider- If your child scored high in this area, they may become overwhelmed by sensory input and try to avoid it throughout the day. This could include behaviors such as avoiding large groups or certain activities, or becoming easily frustrated by change.
- Sensitivity/Sensor- If your child scored high in this area, they may detect sensory input at a higher rate than others and may react strongly to it. This could include things like covering their ears when a room is loud, looking away from tasks, or not wanting to get messy.
- Registration/Bystander- If your child scored high in this area, they may miss or not be aware of normal amounts of sensory input. Your child may need directions repeated multiple times, struggle to keep organized, or bump into things throughout the day.
Sensory and Behavioral Sections
The sensory and behavioral sections break down the different forms of sensory input that your child encounters throughout the day.
- Auditory- what they hear
- Visual- what they see
- Touch- what they feel, like not liking to get messy or not noticing when their hands or face are dirty
- Movement- behaviors such as being fidgety, bumping into objects, or avoiding playground activities
- Behavior- includes their level of engagement, if they are easily frustrated, if they make tasks more difficult, and how they react to changes in routine
The school factors section breaks down what types of supports your child needs at school to maximize their engagement and participation in activities. According to the questionnaire:
- “School factor 1 indicates a student’s need for external supports while in the learning environment. This school factor encompasses seeking and registration patterns”. If your child scored high in this area, they may need additional supports while at school to be able to better participate. This could include things like additional directions or a visual schedule.
- “School factor 2 indicates the level of a student’s attention and awareness in their learning environment. This pattern includes seeking and sensitivity patterns.” To help your child, their team may try to limit distractions like placing them closer to the board or providing additional visuals like pictures to go with directions.
- “School factor 3 indicates a student’s tolerance within the learning environment. This school factor includes avoiding and sensitivity. Both are low threshold sensory patterns.” To help your child, their team may allow them to complete assignments in a quiet environment or in small groups so that they are better able to focus.
- “School factor 4 indicates a student’s ability to learn within their learning environment. This school factor includes avoiding and registration.” If your child is avoiding input, they may try to limit unnecessary distractions like removing pictures from worksheets. If they are not registering the input, they may allow movement breaks throughout the day to help them alert and focus.
Your child’s sensory needs may be complex and they may score high in multiple areas of this assessment. If you have additional questions about their sensory needs or the results, discuss them with your child’s occupational therapist. This may also be a beneficial time to speak with them about sensory concerns that you are seeing at home and strategies that may be beneficial for your child.
-Morgan Petroff, OTR/L