Sensory IEP goals-is that possible? school OT says it's not

Hi-I have a 5 year old diagnosed with ADHD and obvious sensory seeking behaviors-to me(mom-a PT), neuropsych, pediatrician, private school teachers, neurologist and i have documentation from all MDs. Problem is his OT in public school is refusing to give him sensory diet.


we went to mediation over this and had an independent OT eval done since mediation and she stated he needs more than we even requested including a sensory diet, pull out, extra transitioning time etc-anyhow my point is-are there specific sensory goal examples i could find somewhere? the school OT is I believe just not wanting to budge-our IEP meeting is this Thursday for followup after mediation and i doubt she is going to budge-classroom has available sensory accommodations-not enough in my opinion-he can't self select either. OH my-if you could forward IEP goals that would be appropriate much appreciated.

she (public school OT) stated clearly you can't make up goals for sensory seeking behaviors-i bet she's trying to get out of putting ot services on IEP for sensory seeking behaviors, period. private school is doing sensory activities and have documented improvements in behaviors after sensory activities. crazy.

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Oct 18, 2016
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Qualifying for OT in school setting with SPD alone.
by: Anonymous

I am new to school setting working as an OT in the state of CA.

My question is, can a child qualify to receive OT in the school setting for Sensory Processing issues alone? The child was unable to participate at all with formal testing with VMI due to unable to be directed to participate, running around the room, refusing to complete test items. Child does have a current IEP in place for Speech services.

Feb 05, 2016
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Ugh!
by: Anonymous

I hear both sides to this argument. Parents want the administration and staff in the schools to do as much as they can in order for their kids to be successful. Administration and staff at the schools put limits on the accomodations and modifications that the student (might) benefit from due to cost, lack of evidence that these interventions work, and among other reasons. I think both groups of people have a good argument and it's not going to go anywhere! For those of us who have children with sensory processing disorder or another illness with sensory related sensitivities, we know how hard it is to figure out the "just right" intervention to ensure our dear little one is at a "just right" level of alertness for learning readiness. Why are we pretending that any amount of fidgets, movement breaks, or a quiet sensory room, are going to solve our kiddo's problem? We know that what works one day will not work on another day. Most importantly, we know that using some of these strategies are not setting up our kids to function in the real world. Yes, your child might have an office some day and sit on a yoga ball. However, his work place is not going to make sure there is an object to use or special place for him to calm down or fuel up. With that said, admin and teachers, come on! It's not the end of the world to allow a child to move in a variety of positions, hold a fidget, or utilize a cozy space in the room or at the end of the hallway. While there may not be conclusive research that suggests a sensory diet is rocket science and the cure all, it's common sense these strategies can be helpful to all kids! I think there's a happy medium. Why fight against each other?

Instead of parents and school personnel fighting each other about an intervention that is likely going to be replaced with the next trendy (and costly) set of interventions, maybe the two groups could work together and fight for change in school culture as an entirety. There is more research showing that it is our education system, made up of rigid curriculum and testing, a lack of creative arts, music, cooperative play, time in nature, and exercise that is failing our kids. Lets not forget that there are at least 30 kids for one teacher in a class now days working in a space created for 18 kids and a teacher. The hallways are filled with tables, small groups, and specialists. The kids have 20 minutes to eat their processed food and fortified drinks. Not to mention many of our kids now days are starting their days at 6am and ending their days at 6pm in day care or sitting in front of technology screens.
Everyone wants a quick fix. It doesn't exist. Everyone is fighting for their rights. It's all such an ugly war that no one is ever doing to win. Even if you team decides to put sensory goals on your child's IEP, things for him or her don't change that much. I'm sorry to tell you that but it's the truth. Even if the teachers get their way and it gets left out of the IEP. ANother behavior and another intervention will keep that teacher busy...to no avail. It sounds hopeless, but I'm being real. Everyone is fighting for and defending the wrong things in this thread. Educate yourself?! That's laughable. Wake up!!! Deal with reality and fight a battle worth fighting for that will actually help our kids with special needs, help our general education kids, our teachers, and us as parents. Fight to change school culture. Sensory rooms, toys and breaks, ugh! I want to see kids enjoying time outside,playing inside, what have you. All this is kind of a joke.

Oct 11, 2014
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sped mom
by: Anonymous

My son was dxed with Autism at age 2. i have struggled with his school every since. I have an IEP meeting coming up this week and this will be the second already this year.

i am hoping the school will agree to the things i want put into the classroom such as a ball chair in all reg-ed classes and fidget toys at his desk to help him pay attention. he is already allowed to chew gum for mouth sensory. and im hoping they will allow him to use his PECS cue cards to communicate before he shuts down and they lose him and a time till he calms himself which can be hours. i am taking my advocate with me again she said they are not giving my son the least restrictive environment at school since they just send him to the bad room every time something happens.i have like 15 pages of request and training for the school staff and directions on what my child needs to function in the classroom with little trouble. i just hope they give me the time to accomplish this as most of my IEP meetings are 30 mins on average. i have done all the research for them all they have to do is listen. if it doesn't work this time i will not be signing it into effect and we are going to the disability law to get this taking care of. i have provided all of the extra equipment as well so its not coming out of the schools funds at all.

Oct 03, 2014
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Sensory diets should help student meet educational goals, not be a goal on their own
by: Anonymous

I am a school OT. I do develop sensory diet activities for students who I think need it to meet their behavioral goals. Having said that, a sensory diet is not synonymous with Sensory Integration therapy, which I get a lot of requests for by parents. SI therapy is a clinic based therapy that is not evidence-based in the school setting. Some of the students I serve do indeed have sensory issues but having a sensory issue alone is not a reason to write a sensory goal. With modifications to their schedule, environment and structuring of demands some students don't need a sensory diet even though they may still have a problem processing sensory information. What the student needs is an educationally-relevant deficit that may be caused by a sensory processing problem. The goal is written for the educational relevant goal and I, as the school OT, collaborate with the Sped staff to come up with an appropriate sensory diet for setting the student is in to help the student meet the educationally relevant goal. I have to say though that children with sensory processing issues are not as common in my experience and I feel that it has been a hot topic in Sp. Ed. because some parents are trying to blame everything on sensory when it clearly is behavior. I have developed numerous sensory diets for children, trained many staff members and have had teachers spend many hours implementing sensory diets only to find sensory activities don't help. But I still have some parents who insist on continuing sensory diets even when it occurs at the loss of instruction time. Sensory diets are useful when they are helping the student meet his/her academic goals. Other than that it's time away from instruction.

Sep 02, 2014
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Sensory on IEP possible
by: Anonymous

I have been going through a very similar situation with our district as my daughter transitions to Kindergarten. After much debate my daughter's IEP includes sensory goals and accommodations such as a daily sensory diet and sensory breaks and access to a quiet space with limited stimuli.

This is a hot issue in special education and because SPD is not medically recognized they try to not provide service or accommodations. But we fought and we won. There is nothing in IDEA that states that sensory related goals cannot be on an IEP. My daughter is developmentally typical and academically average and above average except for her SPD and has a diagnosis of ADHD. Custom goals were written for her much to my didtrict's dismay. Good luck!

Jun 22, 2014
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what to do
by: Anonymous

You can provide all his snacks and food. and ask them not to give your child certain snacks (you can provide replacement on snack day). Short of that, they are under no other obligation.

They do have an obligation to do something about sensory behaviors but that can't happen if you are NOT very specific. What behavior are you trying to prevent? What do you think would help?

Get a private OT or look online and draft some relevant goals.

Nov 29, 2013
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School is not a clinic!
by: Anonymous

Seriously? If we followed your line of reasoning, there would be a psych clinic in every school to treat mental illness, a brace shop to provide orthotics that a child may need to ambulate in school, a wheelchair clinic to spec and order and fit wheelchairs for those children who cannot ambulate in school, and on and on and on. Yes accomodations for sensory differences should be provided as needed but not treatment- it is a school- not a clinic. Do you have a problem with private therapy?

Sep 14, 2013
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Yes! Schools should be clinics if that is what it takes! Get Educated People!
by: Sensory MOM!

I can't even read all of these comments because I am so upset by many of them. I am a MOM whose daughter has and IEP. Let me first say to anyone who things, "school should not be a clinic".

SCHOOL SHOULD BE ANYTING IT NEEDS TO BE IN ORDER FOR CHILDREN TO GET THE EDUCATION.....FREE APPROPRIATE PUBLIC EDUCATION... THEY DESERVE!!!

Those who think different have to be the school officials CONSISTING OF MANY OF THE IEP TEAM we IEP parents fight. Fortunately, I have a daughter who benefits from going to a Sensory Room because the mom before me fought for it in the school. Thankful for this mom each day! Sensory Rooms are a huge help to teachers and before long they will be in most schools....just like Reading Resource....our Math Resource. If a school can have an OT or an ST in school why not have a sensory room?

Second, Read and know what your rights are. I say this to both sides! Seriously. I find it funny almost that some schools and teachers and IEP team members have no clue what the laws are and have no clue with the disability acts states. I encourage you to take a peek because as parents are coming in with all the tools I am seeing the school team members are lacking in this area. Be careful to state the law to parents when you really don't understand what it means.

I don't care about your funds in school! I don't care how minimal they are! What I do care about is that people are educated about sensory needs in and out of the classroom. Get educated all of you IEP directors because us parents are prepared to be your worst nightmares when not! What I love the best is I can meet with the IEP team all year long to help you get education if need be so don't waste everyone's time and money. GET EDUCATED and GET TRAINED!

As a Social Worker I see so much neglect in the school system with kids IEP's not working for them because basically all the IEP is to them is one more stack of papers they have to complete. The nice thing for the school is that each school gets funding for the IEP in place. This funding is to help schools setup whatever services are needed to help the child get the education.

FREE APPROPRIATE PUBLIC EDUCATION!! Read the law! Parents are getting smarter. Advocates are waiting to jump on board and help us get smarter. I am excited for those parents who keep fighting. Like the boy who now brings his dog to school. Listen people... look up FAPE! It is a BIG DEAL and it makes me smile!


Jun 14, 2013
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SI
by: Anonymous

What about when you are working with a child with SPD on top of autism who responds to SI to achieve increased development in fine motor and visual motor areas? I sometimes include sensory and sensory motor in the condition..."Given sensory activities ____ will demonstrate improve ....." Of course you need to understand how different sensory systems enhance specific areas of development.

Mar 30, 2013
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A better question to ask
by: Wisconsin Anonymous

You are really asking about the STRATEGIES necessary for your child to achieve the academic and functional goals on their IEP. Technically, it would be inappropriate to write a "Sensory" goal for any student. If the child's behavior or ability to perform is influenced by the use of sensory/motor strategies, the target behavior should be the goal; "Johnny will sit quietly during circle time, without touching other students for 10 minutes, 3 out of 5 mornings."

The strategies used to help Johnny accomplish this goal may include sensory-based strategies. Those strategies would be reflected in the therapist's treatment plan(sometimes referred to as an Intervention Plan.)
However, this answer still doesn't get to the issue of evidence-based practice and the significant lack of evidence regarding the efficacy of these strategies, like a sensory diet. There is compelling evidence that a variety of “sensory modulating” and behavioral strategies embedded into normal school routines are equally as effective. I would gently suggest that your outside OT was not well versed in school-based therapy and the intention of IDEA as it pertains to related services and educational/functional goals.

Jan 17, 2013
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Do What is Best For Your Child
by: Anonymous

You absolutely should have a behavior goal added into his IEP. The behavior goal can include areas that deal with his sensory needs. Just because an OT is a related service provider doesn't mean they can't include a goal in his IEP that the teacher can comply with. People don't like to add goals because they don't want to have to monitor and help. Continue to ADVOCATE! Stay strong and know that with sensory integration your child can turn their day around!

Sep 24, 2012
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Sensory Goals. Possible?
by: Anonymous

I work for a financially stressed school district. There is no way sensory rooms are going to be put into use here, and this is not a realistic strategy anyway. Sensory strats need to be put in place in the natural setting, i.e. the classroom, like all other strategies we use. We need to be teaching teachers and assistants how to recognize sensory needs and how to apply sensory strategies, and we should have a goal of teaching the student how to do this also. Changing the culture of the classroom will be more effective than any pull out service we provide.

Sep 18, 2012
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Specific SPD IEP GOALS?
by: Anonymous

Can anybody give me an example of specific goals that they have in their IEP for a sensory seeking child who will pinch, bite, crash into things, etc. to attempt to self-regulate and who also loses motor planning abilities (gross and fine motor and speech) when disregulated from certain movements?

Jul 23, 2012
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Integrated approach of OT for Sensory Issues
by: Anonymous

The school setting is not an OT clinic and we need to stop trying to make it one. I agree with the sensory modulating activities being part of the accommodations. I also agree that the IEP developed by the teacher should be the main IEP that related services support. OT/PT in the school is there to help the student progress in his IEP not in OT/PT goals. I feel that we should use activities that can be used easily by the teaching staff and incorporated into the school day. We should equipment that is readily available to the teaching staff and should not be setting mini OT clinics in schools. I feel that the consultative model is the way to go. We should be doing more education and observations of what is going on in the student's day/schedule;so that it becomes a part of their day.

Feb 20, 2011
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School ot
by: Anonymous

You all need to remember that school ot and private ot are very different . Don.t expect clinic based therapy to occur in school.

Jan 21, 2011
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Sensory IEP goals-is that possible? school OT says it's not
by: Anonymous

The school therapist is not trying to get out of providing services. She is technically correct - it is not appropriate to put "sensory" goals in the IEP. As stated in a previous post (see May 11, 2010,) it is not appropriate to have separate "OT goals" or "PT goals" in an IEP. Nor is it appropriate to write "sensory goals". The use of a sensory diet is an intervention strategy. The IEP goals should be developed by the team; identifying the behaviors/tasks the child needs to accomplish in order to succeed in their educational program. (The baseline performance for the identified behaviors should also be clearly articulated in the Present Level of Performance.) Once the goals are established, the team then discusses the strategies and related services (this would include OT or PT) that may be necessary to help the student achieve their goals.

The goals in the IEP should be related to an activity/task in the school that is impacted by your child?s sensory deficits. You mentioned that they have seen improvement in the private school. Can you describe the specific behaviors in school that have been improved? For example, sometimes a child with sensory needs will have difficulty concentrating/attending to a task, or they may have difficulty with transitions throughout the building. The IEP goal should be written in a way that identifies the problem area; i.e., "Johnny will attend to a seat-work assignment for 5 minutes without teacher redirection." Then sensory strategies would then be identified in the accommodations section of the IEP.

If you can clearly describe the task, activity, or behavior that has been improved since the addition of sensory strategies at private school, then you might be more likely to make a case for those strategies to be used to support behavior goals in the IEP.

Jan 20, 2011
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Michigan
by: Anonymous

I live in Michigan and am just trying to gather enough information on SPD. I was just given a diag that ds has SPD. The therapists were changing and the new therapist indicated he has SPD the old therapist never said a word about it. Probably not much exp in that field?? Just in the beginning stages of all of this... and gathering gathering gathering as much information as i can. I have noted the information that has been on this site, however any more information I should know would be helpful for my case to the school.

May 11, 2010
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IEP Goals vs. accomodations
by: Anonymous

This is posted in support of the comment made by Denise, 5/7/10. It is not appropriate to have separate "OT goals" or "PT goals" in an IEP.Nor is it appropriate to write "sensory goals". The use of a sensory diet is an intervention strategy. The goals should be developed by the team; identifying the behaviors/tasks the child needs to accomplish in order to succeed in their educational program. (The baseline performance for the identified behaviors should also be clearly articulated in the Present Level of Performance.) Once the goals are established, the team then discusses the strategies and related services (this would include OT or PT) that may be necessary to help the student achieve their goals.

For example, a student that might benefit from a sensory diet may have a goal that addresses attention to task or staying in their seat for a specified amount of time during instruction. The use of a sensory diet is a strategy - not a goal. Along with an IEP, containing goals for the student?s performance, the therapist should develop a treatment plan that addresses the strategies used by OT to treat the student. This would include sensory strategies and/or any consultation regarding modifications or adaptations.

At times, if the strategies are to be incorporated into the child's school routine (as is the case with a sensory diet) the plan may need to be written into the IEP under a portion that addresses accommodations. The other piece that is so often over looked is the need to follow up with good data collection and monitoring by the therapist to help the team determine if the strategy is beneficial.

May 07, 2010
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IEP goals versus accommodations
by: Denise

Lots of people, parents and professionals alike, have a hard time understanding that as a related service, OT does not formulate their own goals. Technically, and in a best case scenario, the goals on an IEP are the student's goals. the first steps are in obtaining present levels of function, strengths and then needs of the student. For every need, a goal must follow, but the goals are not discipline specific. What is the purpose of a sensory diet for your child? Generally, I put therapuetic interventions such as a sensory diet in the accommodations section of the IEP. In order for a student to be successful in attaining their overall goals, be it attending to task, writing, reading, math-whatever the need is-the accommodations are what set the student up for goal attainment.

I am currently working in a district that has used an 'old school' model of every discipline having its own goals and it is extremely frustrating. Only the child has goals on an IEP, not a speech therapist, not a resource teacher, not an OT-only the child. We use sensory diets all the time to help individual students to access their education and attain their goals. I am currently pushing to change our goal writing model...wish me luck!

Apr 17, 2010
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what helps?
by: Anonymous

What are the sensory strategies that have worked for your son in his private school? Many sensory processing strategies have not worked for my ADHD son. The school ot has used a "diet" of movement breaks & classroom helper, seat cushion, weighted blanket, slant board, etc. Just because a child is diagnosed with ADHD does not mean he has sensory deficits.

Apr 14, 2010
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Sensory can be done in the schools
by: Anonymous- and a school based occupational therapist

It is difficult but sensory diets can happen within the school, if you have a supportive educational team. We call them "movement breaks" and our children participate in them during set times of the day along with other times as they arise. As far as sensory goals they can be written here is just an example of what I have used in the past. explanation of purpose of goal - HG has decreased vestibular/proprioceptive processing that impacts his ability to coordinate his head and eye movements. HG has difficulty maintaining attention to task due to loosing his placement when copying from board to his paper.

LTG: By 11/03/2010 HG will improve his vestibular and propriocetive processing (processing of head movements and coordination of eyes) to independently copy 3 five word sentences from both a far and near model, paying attention to size, line placement and legibility 3/5 attempts.

This child also receives sensory integration therapy from me in the school for one hour per week. I will admit it is not the easiest task to accomplish in the schools due to lack of equipment etc, but we do have a suspended swing in our room and get creative with what equipment we have. I hope things work out for you and your child.

Jan 08, 2010
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thanks jillb
by: Anonymous

thanks Jill B-he has had an behavioral therapist look at him. we are on track. last iep had someone from state and special ed director there and we had an independent OT evaluation completed and indicated a need for more sensory/independent sensory OT diet need. we are getting there slowly

Jan 08, 2010
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sensory diet in school
by: jill b

My son's school (England) have been exceptional his sensory diet is not on IEP but they do it, and do it well even though the TA didn't understand how or why it worked for the 1st 8 months until we paid for her to go on a course. Maybe you could suggest your child having an IBP (individual behaviour plan) as well as IEP.

Dec 29, 2009
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sensory OT goals on his IEP
by: Anonymous/school based OT consultant

All IEP goals should be related to the child's educational program. Technically, because OT (and PT for that matter) is a "Related Service" and not an educational program, it would be inappropriate to have an "OT goal" or a "sensory goal" in the IEP.

Here's the better question....The question to ask of the therapist evaluating or treating the child is: What functional tasks, required for school performance, are impacted by their sensory disorder? This needs to be included and accurately described in the Present Level of Performance section of the IEP. The goal should then be written in relationship to the child?s performance in the educational setting and in a way that connects it to the functional component described in the Present Level of Performance. If the therapist can make this connection to a behavior/task/functional skill necessary for success in the child's educational program, then there is rarely need to do "battle" with the district. The larger challenge is when a child has a SPD , does not qualify for an Educational Program and, therefore, does not "qualify" for OT.

Therapists should also have an Intervention Plan that ?ties? their intervention strategies (i.e., sensory strategies) to the educational goals identified in the IEP. Some districts are beginning to allow therapists to include the Intervention Plan in the IEP documentation. At the very least, therapists could bring this with them to the IEP to help parents and teachers understand how their intervention strategies are supporting the child's performance and achievement of their educational goals.


Dec 27, 2009
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same here
by: Anonymous

We had a difficult time getting and convincing OT after transferring schools. I brought our behavior pediatrician with us, had the teachers and therapists fill out behavior forms and presented our plan and concerns.

It can be tough, he even has autism as his primary and speech second. We had a SIPT done to prove the dyspraxia and if they don't "show" it in school it can difficult.

Dec 22, 2009
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reply to anonymous re: looking at iep/from teacher
by: 5 year old's mom no sensory goal

to previous answerer-yes, My son also has been diagnosed with ADHD, receives OT for fine motor issues and Speech therapy as well. where do i find this info-i live in Massachusetts.

Dec 22, 2009
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Get Informed
by: Anonymous

As a Public School teacher and a mom of 2 with SPD your first stop should be your state government. Find out what schools in your state are required by law to provide. In MI where I'm from unless you have another condition like ADHD I can't even get an IEP on just SPD.

Dec 21, 2009
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sensory OT goals on his IEP
by: Anonymous

my son has several sensory OT goals on his IEP, but I had to completely change schools to get them.

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