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Linda Martin Mennonite Educators Conference

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Linda Martin Mennonite Educators Conference Lansdowne, VA February 2-4, 2012

2 This workshop will explore sensory processing, self-regulation, executive functions, gender differences in self-regulation and how the classroom environment can affect behavior


In SENSORY INTEGRATION AND THE CHILD, Jane Ayres writes, “Sensory integration is the organization of sensation for use. Our senses give us information about the physical conditions of our body and the environment around us. Sensations flow into the brain like streams flowing into a lake. Countless bits of sensory information enter our brain at every moment, not only from our eyes and ears, but also from every place in our bodies. We have a special sense that detects the pull of gravity and the movements of our body in relation to the earth.”

“The brain must organize all of these sensations if a person is to move and learn and behave normally. The brain locates, sorts, and orders sensations-somewhat as a traffic policeman directs moving cars. When sensations flow in a well-organized or integrated manner, the brain can use those sensations to form perceptions, behaviors, and learning. When the flow of sensations is disorganized, life can be like a rush-hour traffic jam.” (Ayres, 1979 p. 5)


“Self-regulation refers to several complicated processes that allow children to appropriately respond to their environment” (Bronson 2000). In many ways, human self-regulation is like a thermostat. A thermostat senses and measures temperature, and compares its reading to a preset threshold. When the reading passes the threshold, the thermostat turns either a heating or cooling system on or off. Similarly, children must learn to evaluate what they see, hear, touch, taste, and smell, and compare it to what they already know. Children must also learn to then use self-regulation to communicate with any number of systems (such as motor or language systems) to choose and carry out a response Young Children – July Ida Rose Florez

Prefontal Cortex = Executive function Female frontal lobe development usually occurs around age years. Male frontal lobe development usually occurs around age One must have a fully developed frontal lobe to recognize the difference between right and wrong. (Leonard Sax)

9 What is Executive Function?
The cognitive process that regulates an individual's ability to organize thoughts and activities, prioritize tasks, manage time efficiently, and make decisions. (The Free Dictionary by Farlex) The executive functions are a set of processes that all have to do with managing oneself and one's resources in order to achieve a goal. (LD ONLINE)

10 Emphasizing the differences between boys and girls does not mean “better or worse”, it just means DIFFERENT! Daniel j Hodgins

11 Boys and Girls See Details Differently
Girls often see the details of the experience. The female brain often receives more information than boys. Females have a wider peripheral vision because they have more of the receptor rods and cones in the retina, at the back of the eyeball, to receive a wider arc of visual input. (Moir & Jessel) Boy’s Brains often see the whole but not always the details Daniel J Hodgins


13 Boys and Girls often are different in their development.
In most cases boys’ brains are larger at birth but girls’ brains mature earlier then boys (Moir & Jessel) Boy brains can be months behind girls in development Daniel J Hodgins

14 Boys and Girls often have different connections between cognition and feelings.
Lots of learning is “cross talk” between the cognitive side and the emotion side in the Corpus Callosum. (Mois & Jessel) Girls’ Corpus Callosum is often larger than boys. (Ruben Gur) Therefore: Boys might not care the same way. Boys often are not capable of and therefore do not want to talk about their feelings. Boys often express their feelings physically. Boys might hurt others more but that does not mean boys don’t care. THIS IS DIFFICULT FOR PEOPLE WHO HAVE A LARGE “CORPUS CALLOSUM”. Who are those persons? Daniel J Hodgins

15 Female and Male Corpus Callosum Differences

16 More Boy and Girl Brain Differences
Girls’ brains are usually always “ON” (Ruben Gur) Girls can do multiple tasks and they often talk while doing the tasks. Boys sometimes take much longer to complete a task. Boys brains frequently go into “pause” state after completing one task. Daniel J Hodgins ELABORATE ON PAUSE STATE - bottom of p. 1 -

17 Preventing “Pause” States
Limit the number of transitions Provide for physical movement often Offer standing up options The following activities seem to move the brain from pause state to active state: Getting the boy to shout loudly, Providing for spinning activities, Jumping up and down, Running in place, Marching legs high, Clapping, Putting hands together an pushing on each other with force, Taking giant steps, Stretching arms up high Daniel J Hodgins

18 “There are NO differences in what girls and boys CAN learn
“There are NO differences in what girls and boys CAN learn. But there are big differences in the best ways to teach” Leonard Sax, 2005 I would add there are no differences in what children with Sensory Processing can learn. But there are big differences in the best ways to prevent/respond to the melt downs (traffic jams)

19 Boys and Girls often differ in their response to NOISE
Boys often respond using LOUD voices. If this is so why are we always saying “use your indoor voice”? Do teachers give the message that “loud” children are not as good as “quiet” children? Provide “loud” areas. Does expecting the book/library area to be quiet deter boys from reading???? Daniel J Hodgins

20 [Dennis the Menace cartoon by Hank Ketcham removed by MEA for copyright reasons]
Description: Dennis is in the library asking the librarian, “Do ya have a LOUD section?”

21 What Do Boys Need? A variety of movable objects Lots of space
Visual routines Lower temperatures Roughhousing Running Power play Boxes for kicking Loud areas LADDERS EVERYWHERE Daniel J Hodgins

22 Selecting Books for Boys:
Can the book be acted out? Does the pictures in the book have less details? Is the subject relevant to boys? Is there a beginning, middle and end? Can a boy identify with the character? Are there words that encourage movement? Daniel J Hodgins

23 REFERENCES Boys and Girls Learn Differently! – Michael Gurian
How Does Your Engine Run? – Mary Sue Williams, OTR/L, Sherry Shellenberger, OTR/L Mind In The Making: The Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs – Ellen Galinsky No More Melt Downs – Jed Baker, Ph.D Sensory Integration and the Child A. Jean Ayres, PhD The Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun – Carol Stock Kranowitz, M.A. Why Gender Matters – Leonard Sax, M.D. Ph.D YOUNG CHILDREN – Journal of the National Association for the Education of Young Children; July 2011 pp.46-51

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