My Work Profile 1: Sensory and Environmental Factors

My Work Profile 1

Sensory and Environmental Factors

Created by Elana Himmelfarb May 2017

Applies To: Work and Career, Awareness Development and Executive Function, Self-Awareness, Critical Thinking


To identify and understand one’s environmental preferences and sensitivities in the workplace.


  • To identify sensory sensitivities in workplace environments
  • To identify sensory preferences in workplace environments
  • To validate and normalize environmental sensitivities and preferences
  • To understand how environmental sensitivities and preferences affect mood, motivation and success
  • To strengthen use of descriptive language
  • To practice expression of preferences and sensitivities (self advocacy)
  • To model and encourage the use one’s self-awareness of environmental sensitivities and preferences as a tool for decision making in selection of potential work and career pathways

You will need:

  • Environmental checklist (provided)
  • Colored pens, pencils or markers
  • Visual prompts, pantomime and other learning strategies to support vocabulary comprehension
  • Energy and attention—stretch or movement breaks as needed

Activity Steps

1. Set the climate – establish understanding that we are affected by how our environment affects us. Review five senses and find examples in room to connect sensory to environment. Use developmentally appropriate language for “like/preference” and “dislike/sensitivity” below. Pointing to images (“plus” or “minus” or “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” is another possible approach.

2.  Navigate worksheet with participant. Use visualization, manipulatives, gestures, movement, role play and other engaging methods to anchor meaning and increase focus and engagement.


Students with visual processing issues, reactivity to worksheets or cognitive overwhelm - reformat worksheet so the layout of the list of words is best suited for easiest navigation (ex: create more space between words); use paper, sticky notes, or tachistoscope to cover other words on page; or use an alternate format such as a white board or computer screen to show one word at a time. Activity can be broken up into chunks if stamina/mental energy is low

3. Drawing Conclusions & Brainstorming: Use summary worksheet to review. Facilitate brainstorming of places associated with one, some or all of the words on the list. When possible, link the environments generated to possible jobs in those settings (ex: love environments with food smells – bakery, restaurant, food factory; jobs in those places – cooking, prepping, selling, cleaning, serving). Capture data in Summary sheet for career development portfolio. Can be done with student as activity wrap-up or done in a separate session.

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