Sensory Diet for Sensory Kids

Sensory Diet for Sensory Kids

Just as we need food throughout the day, we need sensory input to stay organized and focused. Choose from the “ingredients” below to develop a sensory diet that helps your child handle challenging situations and self-regulate.  The benefits can be immediate and cumulative, positively impacting your child’s nervous system over time.

Sensory Over Responders find things too loud, too hard, too heavy, too sticky, too wet and, well, just too much! To calm and reassure, try these strategies:

  • Provide a quiet environment like a tent, tunnel or closet
  • Use earmuffs or earplugs
  • Give ample notice before transitions
  • Use soft calming materials like pillows, beanbag chair, stuffed animals, and weighted blankets
  • Play gentle music and wind instruments to encourage deep breathing
  • Encourage bubble blowing
  • Place lava lamp, bubble tube or calming lights in the room, and remove bright lighting
  • Encourage art activities that are calming like drawing, painting and weaving
  • Calm with a deep pressure massage, pressure vest or compression clothing
  • Rock and breathe deeply
  • Relax with aromatherapy
  • Read stories or books that reassure
  • Play non-competitive games like catch with  scarves, parachute play or group games
  • Discuss what makes them feel safe
  • Swing or lie in a hammock
  • Exercise with calming stretches such as yoga, dance, gymnastics and swimming.

 

TRY THESE FUN TOOLS:

  1. Fun Frames
  2. Bubble tube
  3. Ear Muffs
  4. Weighted Toy or Lap Pad
  5. Calming Swings
  6. Weighted Blanket
  7. Beanbag Chair
  8. Yoga Cards

 

Sensory Under Responders  take longer to register sensory input, whether it’s not hearing their name when you call, slouching, or forgetting things.  To help increase alertness and organization, try these strategies:

  • Provide lists, visual cues and visual reminders
  • Give notice when transitioning to provide ample time to get ready
  • Provide seating that encourages an alert posture, such as wedges, firm chairs, and back support.
  • Use metronomes, timers and organizers to maintain alertness and keep on task
  • Use aromatherapy for improving alertness
  • Encourage tasks that require hand-eye coordination
  • Encourage rhythm with drumming or guitar
  • Do art activities, like painting, cutting and building to use large muscles
  • Set up obstacle courses to encourage coordination and motor planning
  • Work on balance skills using therapy balls, balance boards, climbing ladders or active swings
  • Work on strengthening skills with weights, resistance bands, medicine balls and putty
  • Stretch muscles to alert
  • Play sports like karate, rock climbing, hiking and biking

 

TRY THESE FUN TOOLS:

  1. Time Timer
  2. Wedge Cushion
  3. Ball Chair
  4. Rockin Rocker Board
  5. Active Swings
  6. Climbing Ladder
  7. Discovery Putty
  8. Medicine Balls

 

Sensory Seekers are constantly touching, pushing, grabbing, shouting, jumping, biting and on the move. To redirect the high energy to more purposeful activities, try these strategies:

  • Provide clear boundaries, rules and directions
  • Give notice when transitioning to give time to calm down and orient
  • Provide seating that allow movement without distraction, such as wiggle cushion, ball chair, and rocking board
  • Use timers to provide warnings, boundaries and guidelines
  • Wear pressure or weighted vests and clothing for calming
  • Use chewing, deep pressure or heavy hand work to filter excessive movement
  • Use heavy balls or heavy work tasks to organize their muscles and movements
  • Set up obstacle courses to encourage coordination and motor planning
  • Use eye-hand coordination to engage mind and body
  • Provide jumping and running outlets with directions as to when its appropriate
  • Encourage deep breathing with wind instruments, bubble blowing, yoga or singing
  • Use art activities that require heavy work: clay, sculpting, wood working
  • Do daily stretching for calming
  • Exercise with rock climbing, biking, hiking, karate, swimming, gymnastics and triathalon sports

 

TRY THESE FUN TOOLS:

Ilana Danneman PT
Ilana Danneman PT
Ilana M. Danneman, PT, is Director of Education, Innovation and Product Selection at Fun and Function. She can be reached at idanneman@funandfunction.com.
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