Sensory-Friendly Greetings for the Classroom

If you are a teacher, you likely understand how important it is to ensure that every student feels welcomed in the classroom. By greeting each student in the morning with a sensory-friendly greeting, you help to ensure that student is recognized and know that they are a valuable member of the classroom. However, did you know that for students with sensory sensitivities, greetings are often overwhelming and stressful? In fact, according to research, “Hyper-Responsiveness to Touch Mediates Social Dysfunction in Adults With Autism Spectrum Disorders” by Lars-Olov Lundqvist (2015), physical touch has been known as a sensory modality that is impacted in people with autism 1. Give options for students, especially students with autism, to give greetings without touching. To help support these students in a comfortable way, consider implementing sensory-friendly classroom greetings!

This blog post will highlight sensory-friendly classroom greetings and why they are important. Moreover, it will share ideas on how to integrate these greetings into your classroom on a daily basis.

Why are greetings important in school?

Firstly, it is important to understand what a sensory-friendly greeting is. A sensory-friendly greeting is a way to welcome and say hello to someone in a way that is comfortable for them. This can look very different for every person. It is also dependent on individual sensory preferences.

However, you may be wondering why having greetings in the classroom is important. By teaching children to feel comfortable greeting others, you help them start interactions with peers in a positive manner. Therefore, teaching students different greetings is critical for socializing and communication.

Additionally, knowing how to best greet someone in a way that is comfortable for you is a life skill. Life skills help children and teens prepare for adulthood. So, it is important to teach children different ways to greet others.

What greetings should students use?

To start, remind students that there is no single way to properly greet someone. For example, introduce different greeting styles and words uses around the world. Help students avoid feeling pressure to use a specific type of greeting. Additionally, reiterate that the type of greeting that a student uses can change on a daily basis. What is comfortable one day, may not be the next day. Be sure to instruct students that there is no expectation for the type of greeting that they prefer.

What are different types of sensory-friendly classroom greetings?

There are a number of different sensory-friendly greetings to share. Furthermore, there are a number of common greetings to choose from. Sensory-friendly classroom greeting include both contact and contactless greetings. This is key: some children may not feel comfortable touching other people due to their sensitivities. Or any number of reasons. Therefore, it is important to give students options.

Infographic highlighting 7 ways to use sensory-friendly classroom greetings.

Contact greetings

  • Handshake
  • Consider even making special handshakes with different students
  • High five
  • Hug: But establish guidelines! For example, consider implementing a 3-second rule
  • Fist or elbow bump

Contactless greetings

  • Say “hello”
  • Consider any unique ways to say hello, use different languages
  • Wave
  • Peace sign

How do you implement sensory-friendly classroom greetings?

Integrate it into your classroom routine

Firstly, an effective way to begin using sensory-friendly greetings is by integrating them into your daily classroom routine. For many students with sensory processing disorders, developing expectations about their daily routine helps to alleviate anxiety and stress. Therefore, practicing sensory-friendly greetings every morning at the same time will help them feel more comfortable and start the day off with success.

Use visuals

In your classroom, there are many creative ways that you can implement sensory-friendly greetings. A common way is having greeting choices posted just outside of the classroom. The poster shows all the different types of greetings that students can choose from. Be sure to include both contact and contactless greetings. This gives students the opportunity to choose the type of greeting that they want that day to greet their teacher.

Teacher hugging student in classroom.

Show videos of sensory-friendly classroom greetings

If some of your students may be apprehensive to start using sensory-friendly greetings, consider showing videos of other teachers using these greetings. This will help them better understand sensory-friendly greetings. It will also show them how they are usd.

For more inspiration about sensory-friendly classroom greetings, consider checking out Melissa’s tips from the Autism Awareness blog post!

This blog post highlighted what sensory-friendly classroom greetings are and how you can implement them into your classroom. Interested in learning more about creating a sensory-friendly classroom? Then, check out:

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  1. Lundqvist, L. O. (2015). Hyper-Responsiveness to Touch Mediates Social Dysfunction in Adults With Autism Spectrum Disorders. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 9, 13–20.
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