Treatment Activities

What is a Sensory Diet

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A sensory diet is simply a planned set of activities that can be incorporated into a child’s day to help them achieve a feeling of “just right”.

For most children with sensory processing delays, they have a hard time getting their bodies to feel calm and organized. They may be looking for extra input – excessive climbing, jumping, crashing – and as a result have a hard time playing and learning. They may be resisting certain input – resisting grooming tasks, finger painting, eating an appropriate variety of foods – and as a result, also have a hard time playing and learning. Just to make it interesting, frequently children even jump from one extreme to other – seeking out movement input but in the next moment showing sensitivity to touch input.

Which leads us to the first part of an good sensory diet – it is specific to the child’s needs. When creating a sensory diet, we need to investigate when and where a child is struggling with their daily tasks and incorporate appropriate sensory strategies to meet those specific needs.

The second important part of a sensory diet is that is planned and scheduled. It is important to look at the child’s routines and implement activities according when the child is observed to struggle most. While it’s important to know and understand different ways to provide sensory input, knowing WHEN to provide that input is just as important. Overall, the goal of engaging the child in sensory activities on a frequent, regular basis is to help him/her remain engaged, focused, and in control more often.

Calming Activities for Sensory Processing Disorder

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The following is a list of all the calming and organizing sensory tasks I have come across.  The majority of these task are going to provide the right kind of proprioceptive or vestibular input to help your child feel calmer, attend better, and be happier.

**If you are working with an OT, I would STRONGLY recommend looking over this list with your therapist and planning out what activities to implement and when, which creates a sensory diet.  Not all of these tasks are going to be right for your child so there may be some trial and error.**

I am putting this list together starting with my favorite tasks going down to the tasks I haven’t tried or haven’t heard any feedback from parents on.

Lotion Rubs 
Joint compressions  

Use pillows or cushions and give  your child gentle but firm squishes on their legs and arms – you can do gentle input to their torso but be aware of whether or not it’s comfortable for  your child
Same idea as above but try using a large exercise or therapy ball

Use of Swings

Movements back and forth or side to side are best as swinging in a circle can be too stimulating.
Hammock or lycra swings also offer deep pressure input, adding to the calming input.

Use of vibrating toys or massagers

Low level vibration is calming.  Use the massagers on the back, arms, and legs.
This is an inexpensive massager:

Wilbarger Deep Pressure Brushing Protocol
Use of weighted products

Weighted blankets –
Weighted vests –

Use of compression items

Compression vest –
I have purchased a neoprene waist band that people use for weight lifting and cut it to fit the torso of a […]