Sensorimotor Spotlight

Supporting Learners with Visual & Multiple Impairments

Writing Routines for Virtual Instruction - The Next Level of Collaboration

Each year brings new team members such as new Classroom Teachers, Related Services staff, Speech Pathologists, and Paraprofessionals. This year has brought a new, very important member to our collaborative team - our families and caregivers. Therefore, our process has evolved. While teaching virtually is not ideal, we are motivated to think outside of the box and continue to work to provide coherence for our learners.


The August 1st Sensorimotor Spotlight shared tools for gathering data on sensory preferences and participation levels in order to create meaningful instructional routines. We want to share some next steps and how we are using this data to create a routine for the home, and why we think routines are a perfect instructional strategy for virtual learning.

Why Instructional Routines?

Routines work because...

*They are created specifically for an individual learner's motivations and skill level.

*They are done consistently, so the learner feels safe and comfortable knowing exactly what to expect each time.

*BANG for your buck! You can infuse several IEP goals into one short routine.

*They can be created around functional or daily routines that are part of the family's daily activities.

Hand Washing Routines

Our team has decided to begin the year by focusing on hand washing routines for many of our learners. Typically, we would focus on different routines based on each learner’s topic of interest, but this year we need to teach families and caregivers how to provide instruction through routines at home with something familiar and practical. Here's what we've done so far:



  • First, we set up Zoom collaboration sessions with each of our instructional teams to discuss participation levels of learners and motivating elements we could infuse in each routine.
  • We discussed object symbols to begin each routine. We reminded each other that the object symbol should be something in the routine that the learner engages with initially and/or often.
  • We discussed the learner’s active participation in each step. This is one of the best parts because you really have to take a step back and analyze what the learner is doing in each step. At times, we realized our step included a motor action our learner had not yet obtained. We either modified the step or added an accommodation to meet their abilities.
  • Our next step, which is a new step for us, was to look critically at our “lesson plan” for our routine and redesign it so it was easier for our new team members, our families, to understand. Our classroom teachers provided great insight into this new step guiding the process to provide families with the best format for each of them.
  • We used the learner's goals and objectives and embedded as many as possible within steps of the routine.
  • Now the fun begins...observing the routines and carefully providing critical feedback to each of our new instruction providers. Currently, we have provided written lesson plans and have started observation of the routines through Zoom sessions. Through the process Millie has taught us, we have seen so much progress in the learners over the past several years, and we anticipate seeing that same progress with our new team members.



Here are 3 Hand Washing Routines we have created - Teacher versions and Caregiver Versions - to begin our school year with learners at home. We hope they inspire you to develop one individualized for YOUR learner.

A Message from Millie

Image of Mille Smith

In my workshops, I show a lot of videos of partners and learners doing sensorimotor routines.

Occasionally, someone tells me I should not show one of them because it contains something that is not quite right. If I did that I would have no videos. None of them is perfect. I choose them and show them because they are good. In one of my favorite videos, I am doing a routine with James. The routine is designed to engage him in a behavior with an object that he will find more attractive than his habitual throwing. Everything is going great. I model the behavior and James imitates. He is really enjoying putting the bell bracelet on the vibrating mat. I have the brilliant idea that it might be interesting to try a different bell. I pick up the bracelet and toss it to a colleague off camera. James is delighted. He goes back to throwing for about three trials. I do get him back. He likes the new bell on the mat. I thought about editing the tape to remove my goof. I am so glad I didn’t. We cannot let perfect be the enemy of good.


I had the pleasure of working with the Sensorimotor Spotlight Team on a research project to document the effects of using routine-based instruction with students functioning at the sensorimotor stage of cognitive development served by them. We conducted four case studies. Two of those interventions and their results are described in an article published in the

Journal of Visual Impairments and Blindness last spring. A third appeared last spring in the on line journal of Closing the Gap, Solutions. Those articles contain information about two tools contained in The Sensory Learning Kit. They are the Sensory Response Record and the sensorimotor routines. To more accurately evaluate their effectiveness, the tools were implemented by the team participating in the research project according to the procedures stated in the Sensory Learning Kit Guidebook.


In this newsletter, you will see examples of the modifications to these tools used by teams to make them work better for the partners actually designing and doing the routines. The tools contained in the Sensory Learning Kit Guidebook were designed to help you and your teams provide highly effective instruction using strategies based in sound research about the needs of this unique population of learners. To do this, the strategies are essential; the use of the tools exactly as presented in the Sensory Learning Kit Guidebook is not.


Use the tools in the Sensory Learning Kit as a guide. Let them be a roadmap to the implementation of what research tells us is best practice for our learners at the sensorimotor stage of development. Then, figure out what will work for the team serving each of your students. This is especially important now as we provide services in challenging circumstances. Perfection has always been an unachievable goal, even under the best of conditions. We are not going to get perfect, but we can get good. And, we can work to make good better.


-Millie

Do You Have a Case Study to Share?

Do you have a success story? Do you have an extremely challenging situation you'd like support with? Fill out our google form, and we may highlight your case study in a future newsletter.
We hope your year starts off well and are excited about sharing in the journey with you!

Stacey Chambers, TVI

Angela Campbell, Adapted PE Teacher

Allison Clark, PT

Wendy Pray, Active Learning Teacher

Millie Smith, Consultant for Learners with Visual and Multiple Impairments


Contact Us: TheECCandMe@gmail.com