The influence of sensory processing tools on attention and arithmetic performance in Dutch primary school children

Inge van der Wurff*, Celeste Meijs, Petra Hurks, Christine Resch, Renate de Groot

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Behavior caused by nonoptimal sensory processing possibly affects school performance. Sensory processing is the ability of the nervous system to process and modulate sensory input and to give an appropriate response. Children with nonoptimal sensory processing are sometimes given tools that are expected to help them concentrate better and achieve better school performance. However, whether these tools are effective and whether the effects depend on children's sensory processing are unknown. To investigate this, a randomized controlled trial was executed. Children attending Grade 2 (N = 271) performed a sustained attention test (the Bourdon-Vos test) and an arithmetic test once a week 4 weeks in a row with a different sensory processing tool every session: tangle, wobble cushion, earmuffs, or nothing (control condition). Sensory processing was assessed with the Sensory Profile NL. To test the effects of sensory processing tools on the Bourdon-Vos and arithmetic test performance, mixed-model analyses were executed. Negative effects of the use of the tangle, earmuffs, and wobble cushion on the Bourdon-Vos total, the use of the tangle and wobble cushion on the Bourdon-Vos correct, and the use of the tangle on the arithmetic test were shown. When children's sensory processing pattern was considered, a negative effect of the use of all tools was shown on the Bourdon-Vos correct for children who already received an optimal amount of stimuli. Considering these results, more research is needed to investigate the effect of longer-term personalized sensory processing tool use on attention and arithmetic performance of children.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105143
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Early online date2 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021


  • Sensory processing
  • Children
  • Attention
  • Arithmetic
  • Sensory processing tools
  • Primary school
  • TASK

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