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The Whole Child Framework

Behavioural NeedsBody-based NeedsEmotional-needsInterventionsSensory-needs

The Framework pulls together known theories to ensure that the whole child’s needs are met:

  • Maslows – Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a way to understand what humans need in order to live a fulfilling life. It’s like a pyramid that shows the different levels of our needs, starting with the most basic and moving up to higher levels.

  • Williams and Shellenberger – Pyramid of Learning

The Pyramid of Learning by Williams and Shellenberger shows how sensory experiences, motor skills, language, and social-emotional skills are all connected and important for effective learning and development.

  • Dr. Porges – Polyvagal Theory

The polyvagal theory helps us understand how our body’s nervous system responds to different situations. It’s like an invisible superhero that controls our feelings of safety, calmness, or stress, and affects how we interact with others.

How to use this tool:

  1. Download and Complete each column to create a the initial score
  2. Focus on the lowest area of need first 
  3. Implement provision using the suggested resources
  4. After 6 weeks (min) of targeted provision update it (Mid)
  5. Adapt provision based on the results
  6. Re-assess at the end to see progress (Final)


  • Maslow, A. H. (1943). A theory of human motivation. Psychological Review, 50(4), 370-396.
  • Maslow, A. H. (1954). Motivation and personality. New York, NY: Harper & Row.
  • Williams, J., & Shellenberger, S. (1996). The Alert Program: Helping Children with Sensory Processing Difficulties Learn and Behave. Future Horizons, Inc.
  • Williams, J., & Shellenberger, S. (2002). Sensory Processing and the Alert Program: Tools for Helping Children with Sensory Integration Difficulties. Future Horizons, Inc.
  • Williams, J., & Shellenberger, S. (2010). The Pyramid of Learning: A Framework for Understanding Sensory Processing and Learning. Future Horizons, Inc.
  • Porges, S. W. (2011). The polyvagal theory: Neurophysiological foundations of emotions, attachment, communication, and self-regulation. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company.
  • Porges, S. W. (2017). The polyvagal theory in therapy: Engaging the social engagement system for affect regulation, trauma healing, and building resilience. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company.