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 child 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 their 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 themselves or others. So we began trying some of the activities they would do at the therapy clinic at home with success. Our child enjoyed things like rice bins to run their hands through and look for treasures. They also enjoys swinging, 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 their sensory diet are an indoor sensory swing and trampolines.
An Indoor Sensory Swing for Calming
Swings have been perhaps the most long lasting tool we use. We have had a variety over time and their 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 sensory swing is a hammock chair, so it squeezes him much like a calming hug: something they really responds to. Frequently I find him laying on their belly in the hammock with their 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 them get their sensory input is the trampoline for sensory processing disorder support. 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. Our child is able to access the tools they needs to calm their body so they can do the things they want and need.