Nowadays, most occupational therapists use sensory-based therapies during treatment. This mostly applies to children with developmental and behavioral disorders. Sensory therapies involve the use of activities that stimulate the sensory system by providing certain inputs. A sensory diet comprises various parts; these are vestibular, proprioceptive, auditory, and tactile inputs.
What are the common sensory issues?
Some sounds, smells, tastes, and textures can create a sensory overload. For instance, bright lights and loud noises are triggers that can make children feel overwhelmed or upset. Children with sensory disorders exhibit certain signs, such as;
- Aversion to things that trigger their senses
- Frequent putting things in the mouth
Most parents can’t determine whether a child has sensory issues on their own. If you notice signs like those listed above, it’s best to seek help from an occupational therapist. A professional will be able to evaluate your child and suggest the right sensory diet.
Why are sensory diets important?
The same way we eat a balanced diet to stay healthy and strong, we also need balanced sensory information for our bodies’ optimal functioning. A sensory diet checks sensory imbalances in kids to keep them organized and in the optimal state of attention.
What are the four parts of sensory diet?
A sensory diet involves a series of activities that your kid can do at home. It involves a routine designed to meet your child’s needs. There are different parts of a sensory diet; these are;
Vestibular activities form an integral part of a sensory diet. They help in increasing arousal and will improve one’s alertness levels. There are various vestibular activities to choose from, these include;
- Jump spins
- Pick up sticks
- Playground activities- Swinging, sliding
Proprioception activities are either heavy muscle activities or those that apply a lot of pressure on the joints and muscles. There are two types of proprioception; these are active and passive. Active proprioception is ideal for kids with low arousal levels.
Examples of activities that can help arouse the sensory input for such kids are; Heavy work activities, bear walks, crab walks, wall sits, push-ups, yoga. Other activities that actively use muscles and apply good pressure also form part of the proprioception system.
On the other hand, passive proprioception activities help calm the sensory system after stimulating events. Examples of such activities to calm down kids are;
- Bean bag tapping
- Rolling in a blanket
- Stretching muscles
- Holding or wearing something warm
Tactile activities are excellent calming pursuits for kids. But, they can be overstimulation in some instances. Examples are;
- Finger painting
- Skin brushing
- Playing in the mud
- Using stress balls
- Touching fabric textures
- Playing in rice bins
The auditory system encourages kids to be aware of the sounds, tone and volume, and other auditory stimuli. Examples of auditory activities for kids are;
- Playing musical instruments
- Reading a book aloud.
- Listening to birds
- Filling containers
Sensory diets help kids with behavioral issues in many ways. For excellent results, visit an occupational therapist; they will assess your child and determine the best activities for his or her needs.