What are Sensory Diets and How do They Work
Do you have a child with sensory processing difficulties? Do you find yourself wondering the type of activities that will help them? Well, there are various ways to help a child struggling with a sensory processing disorder. A sensory diet is a perfect example. When we talk of diet, food is perhaps the first thing that pops in your mind. This isn’t the case with sensory diets; instead we are talking about physical activities to help your kid stay alert and focused.
Let’s begin by understanding what sensory diets are, and what they involve;
What is a sensory diet?
A sensory diet is a group of personalized activities that provide sensory input to a person’s nervous system. These physical activities encourage kids to stay calm and are handy for overexcited or sluggish and fatigued kids. The diet involves various changes to give your child the necessary sensory input that they need.
What’s more? On top of the physical activities, the diet may also incorporate sensory experiences to help the kid feel better. These are, for example, fidget toys or chewing crunchy foods.
What are the common activities in a sensory diet?
During treatment, the occupational therapist notes the sensory input that your kid seeks or avoids. These preferences form part of the sensory routine. Everyday activities that form part of a sensory diet include;
- Jumping jacks
- Log rolling
- Hoping up and down
- Climbing ladders and sliding
- Animal walks
- Yoga poses
- Heavy work activities like mopping, sweeping, and vacuuming
How do sensory diets work?
A child with sensory difficulties needs regular activities like any other kid. They also require sensory diet activities to help meet their sensory needs. However, how the activities are administered vary from one child to the other. Some kids require regular activities scheduled every day. For others, you only administer sensory activities when necessary. You can also use sensory cards, which allow your child to choose the activities.
Here’s how the diet works:
Hyposensitive& Hypersensitive kids
Hyposensitive kids are considered sensory seekers and are kids who crave certain senses. They have an increased need for some sensory experiences. Using a sensory diet helps the child get the right sensory input that they are craving in a particular instance. Similarly, some kids have certain senses that they try to avoid and are classified as hypersensitive. Introducing a sensory diet slowly introduces these sensations to the hypersensitive child.
The sensory diet can benefit your kid in numerous ways. These are;
- Easier transition between activities
- Allowing tolerance for challenging sensations
- Regulating alertness & improving attention span
- Regulation of sensory seeking and sensory avoiding behaviors
For the sensory diet to be most effective you must work closely with your child when coming up with a sensory diet plan. Also, keenly observe your child and note any difficulties they may be facing during the day and make adjustments as needed. A daily routine also works; follow it and report any concerns to your child’s occupational therapist.
Children with sensory processing difficulties find it hard to accomplish specific tasks throughout the day. If your child has such an issue, contact an occupational therapist near you; the professional will design the right sensory activities for your child, thus helping with alertness and focus.