Age-Appropriate Transition Assessment

Sensory Processing Challenges

5 Point Scale - Book Cover 2

The 5-point scale, created by Kari Dunn Buron, a teacher in Minnesota, is a visual system that can help to organize a person’s thinking and decision-making when working through difficult or stressful moments. Engaging in assessment activities can be stressful for many students and may cause sensory sensitivities and challenges to escalate.

To use this strategy, first identify problem areas for a given person. In an assessment situation, it may relate to remaining calm and trying to perform well. The next step is to break the potential problem area into five parts clearly illustrating the intensity of the situation and putting this information onto a visual scale.

Five-Point Scale Website
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An example:

Taking a Test


How I Feel

What I Can Do


Room is hot. People are too loud and they seem to move too much. Head starts to hurt. Cannot continue working. Feel like exploding! 

Tell adult I am not able to finish today. Walk to break room, rocking chair, use stress ball, and turn lights off. 


Feel like people are too close. Room noise hurts

Need to ask for a break. Take a short walk. Get water. No talking. Cannot stay, but may be able to come back


Sounds start to bother me. More trouble focusing


Put on headphones to block sounds. Squeeze stress ball. 


Just a little trouble staying focused


Close my eyes. Deep Breathe. Count to 10


Concentrating OK. Feeling Mellow. Feeling Successful

Tell Myself I am doing well. Keep Working