Union Hill Elementary School Functional Communication Classroom (FCC) students explored the campus’ motor labs and participated in a sensory needs training, funded through a Round Rock ISD Partners in Education (PIE) Foundation Excellence in Education Grant.

Students with sensory processing disorder experience hyposensitive or hypersensitive reactions to sensory input in one or more of the following areas: visual (sight), auditory (hearing), taste (oral motor), touch, vestibular (movement) and proprioceptive (position).

Union Hill FCC teacher Heather Schoger said the sensory tools purchased through the $1,700 grant have allowed her to design two motor labs and a sensory area in the classroom. The motor labs are not only used by the FCC classroom, but the entire school. She also created a sensory area inside her classroom to teach students to advocate for their sensory needs.

“I have found that when my students have unmet sensory needs, they are often not fully able to engage in learning,” Schoger said. “My goal is to help minimize the sensory challenges that impede learning. The sensory area in my classroom has been instrumental in reducing challenging behaviors as students are learning to request a break to meet their sensory needs.”

FCC parent, Cindy Hernandez said that she appreciates that her son, John Paul, is receiving the same kind of care and sensory input that he receives at home.

“Born with many medical and neurological issues, We noticed immediately that touch and the form of stimulation made an impact on our son, John Paul,” Hernandez said. “John-Paul has been non verbal for several years so he struggles to communicate his feelings. We can only tell by his his behavior. We appreciate that John Paul is able to get this type of stimulation at school as well.”

Schoger also said that while the focus is developing functional communication skills through the use of assistive technology, teachers also work on grade level Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) modified to meet their individual, educational needs.

“My goal as a teacher is to provide a set of conditions that makes learning achievable for all the students in my classroom, regardless of their disability,” Schoger said. “The sensory tools provided with this grant have allowed me to serve my students better and have assisted me in creating the conditions needed for learning to occur.”