How do we provide our Sensory Kids with the input they need?
One of the first things we heard about from our Occupational Therapist (OT) when our son was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) was a Sensory Diet. A Sensory Diet is activities we can do at home to help him regulate his atypical need for sensory input. When you see special-needs kids rocking back and forth, banging into things and people, or flapping their hands, those are often signs that the kid is attempting (in socially awkward ways) to get sensory input that their brain is craving but isn’t getting. We want to try to fulfill those cravings with things that won’t hurt or embarrass himself or others. So we began trying some of the activities he would do at the therapy clinic at home with success. He enjoyed things like rice bins to run his hands through and look for treasures. He also enjoys swings, and rolling on large therapy balls. Some things were easier to build in to our home than others. Two of the best investments we made for his sensory diet are an indoor swing and trampolines.
Swings for Calming
Swings have been perhaps the most long lasting tool Cub uses. We have had a variety over time and his OT has used different ones with him as well. Living in a 4 season region it is valuable to have both an outdoor swing and an indoor one available. This way the weather does not hinder him being able to use it. The motion of the swing is soothing to him. Our indoor swing is a hammock chair, so it squeezes him much like a calming hug: something he really responds to. Frequently I find him laying on his belly in the hammock with his feet in the air, reading a book that is laying on the ground underneath him! We have THIS portable frame to hang it from in our house.
Trampoline for Regulation
In our house the only thing that competes with the swing for helping him get his sensory input is the trampoline. When the house starts to get loud and kids start running around you will hear me tell them ” Go Jump!” The rising volume is my signal they need to release their energy. Sensory kids often need more resistance to their movement than typical kids because their body doesn’t receive the same level of feedback from the motions. Its why Sensory Kids can act like the energizer bunny, they really do need more movement to get worn out! In our house we meet this need by constructive jumping on the trampoline. In good weather they can jump together on our large outdoor trampoline. During the winter they take turns jumping on the smaller one-person trampoline in the playroom. This is the one we have.
Adding these two tools to our at home toolbox has been immensely valuable. He is able to access the tools he needs to calm his body so he can do the things he wants and needs.
What things do you surprise yourself by adding to your home to help your kids?