June Downing Listen to June Downing’s advice on what professionals should do to help parents reinforce sensory efficiency skills.


Hi, my name is Dr. June Downing. I’m a Professor Emeritus from California State University, Northridge.

What do you believe professionals should do to help parents teach and reinforce sensory efficiency skills at home, in the school, and in the community?

Well, I think a very important thing is that teachers can be very encouraging and supportive. I think that they need to share with the family their high expectations for the child’s learning, their understanding that that child can learn, and just be very understanding and supportive of the family’s situation. Because some families are in situations where both parents are working, they’re not home as much as they would like to be. They may have a lot of children that they are taking care of. Some families may be very extended families. Some children are being looked after by their grandparents. And then, of course, the variety of different cultures that exist out there.

So I think that service providers, teachers, need to be very sensitive about the situation that a family is in, and their cultural/linguistic makeup of that family. And also very encouraging of whatever the family is able to do, not kind of demanding certain things, but just not being judgmental, but also understanding who they are as a family, how that child fits in as part of their family, and then to encourage them doing things that they would typically do as a family. And just give them ideas with regards to how to introduce items to the child in a very sensitive way and not in a terribly demanding way. How to maybe start providing the child with tactile symbols that relate to activities that that child is doing at home so the child can begin to feel a tactile symbol and realize that something he likes or she likes is going to happen next.

So I think the teachers can really be supportive of what the family is doing but also encourage them to do as much as they can and not to exclude but to include that child in everything that they’re doing. And certainly at school, they need to be doing the same thing, including that child in all typical, normal, age-appropriate types of activities so that that child feels that he or she belongs to whatever grade level class that that child is placed in and not being separated because of a visual impairment or a hearing impairment or both but really being treated as a typical little kid who just needs a little bit of extra support to feel the world and to have the world perhaps brought a little bit closer to the child.