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Early years: Smelling (olfactory) differences

Children may have a strong aversion to smells or indeed seek smells out.

Strategies and approaches:

  • Staff recognise the positive impact that recognising and planning for children’s sensory differences and needs have on children’s learning and emotional well-being.
  • Set up a ‘no scent’ zone, free from air fresheners, flowers, perfumes etc.
  • Staff should consider the perfume/ aftershave and other products that have a smell that they wear.
  • Consider if the cleaning materials have a strong smell.
  • Provide scented playdough, pens and toys to support sensory seeking.
  • Allow the child opportunities to bake and cook to create different smells.
  • Staff are aware of smells from the outdoor environment e.g. refuse collection and these are mitigated where possible.


Sensory Resource


A sensory checklist for the classroom and individuals can be found on the Autism and Social Communication Advisory Teams WIKI, under the resources for schools section (scroll along to sensory processing).

Last updated 2 November 2021

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