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.