Rabbit / Sensor
What is a Sensory Diet?
Our brain, through our senses, requires a balanced ‘diet’ for us to be able to make sense of, and function in the world we live. This is a sensory diet. Naturally, we experience a variety of sensations every day in order to keep our brain energised, organised, alert or calm. When our brain is able to do this well it is “regulated”. When our brain becomes overwhelmed by too much sensory information or doesn’t receive enough sensory stimulation then we become dysregulated. With a regular, balanced, sensory diet we are better prepared to LOOK, LEARN AND LISTEN and respond appropriately to the demands of the world we live in.
General Guidelines for Implementing a Sensory Diet
- Ideally, allow your child to choose different activities as this will be more motivating for them. A visual schedule can be used to organise the sensory diet. In some cases, it may be more appropriate to follow their lead as they seek out and explore sensory experiences, and for you to help to enhance their regulating properties through engagement with them in these activities also.
- Watch your child carefully to work out if they are enjoying the movement or activity or not. Children respond differently to different sensations. If they do not enjoy something, stop and change activities.
- Use motivators to engage your child in the activities such as light up balls, puzzles, books or theraputty.
- Have fun!
General Guidance for building a Sensory Diet for a ‘Rabbit’
Sensory diets are designed to support a sensors body to become more organised and calmer, and to assist with regulation and attention.
Top tip: Use lots of ‘heavy work’ activities or activities that use our proprioceptive sense.
A sensory diet for a ‘Rabbit’ may consist of:
- 1-2 Alerting activities
- 2-3 Organising activities
- 1-2 Organising activities
These are activities which will help your child to feel more alert and awake, to attend to activities and maintain attention.
NOTE: Too many alerting activities or engaging in alerting activities for too long can cause a child to become too alert, which may be seen as becoming hyperactive or overstimulated.
- Light touch, cold, vibration or rough touch can be ALERTING
- Heavy-work activities can be ALERTING
- Crunchy, sour, chewy, salty or cold foods can be ALERTING
- Chewing, sucking and blowing activities can be ALERTING
- Fast, arrhythmic and rotary movement is generally ALERTING
- Bright lights or bright colours are generally ALERTING
- Louder noises, fast paced music or quick beats are generally ALERTING
- Citrus scents tend to be ALERTING
Easy activities to complete at home:
- Running up and down the garden
- Tapping face lightly with fingertips
- Eating cold, spicy or sour foods.
- Play with musical instruments - these can be pots / pans / empty plastic containers / tissue box with string on top / glasses full of different levels of water - then blow across top for sound / spoons /
- Dancing to upbeat music
- Rolling on the ground
- Spinning in circles – NOTE: Ensure that if the child spins 3 times in one direction that they are directed to spin 3 times in the other direction to ensure feedback is even to the receptors in their inner ears
- Holding hands and jumping up and down on the spot
- Clapping hands
- Sitting on the floor opposite your child, hold their hands and row back and forth whilst singing ‘row row row your boat’.
- Jumping on different spots, bricks or items such as coloured socks
- Lying with head upside down off the couch
- Encourage water play with cold water - this could be squeezing sponges in water to make them absorb, using a watering can, throwing water balloons or colander in water or watering plants in the garden
- Go for a walk around the garden or the house
These are activities encourage attention and concentration for learning and productivity. They are usually activities that improve body awareness and may have a cognitive element to them.
Easy Organising activities to do at home:
- Encourage crawling across a variety of surfaces such as over a blanket, over pillows, through an adult's legs or a carpet.
- Walking around the garden to touch different leaves or spray the plants with water.
- Create a den from the table/chairs with a blanket and encourage the child to crawl into/under/through this.
- Sorting or colour matching
- Puzzles or sequencing activities
- Playing peekaboo or hide and seek
- Walking around the house with a heavy bag, full bottle of water (closed), bucket of items – delivering ‘presents’
- Encourage your child, possibly requiring hand over hand, to stack pillows on top of each other then kick them down or run at them. This can be done by the adult stacking up pillows whilst the child waits, then the child running at them to knock them down.
- Complete wall push ups and sit ups on the floor
- Being given a job to carry some books etc to another room in the house (the use of weight can have a calming effect).
- Complete an egg and spoon race
- Commando crawl along the floor, under tables, chairs and any other objects you can find.
- Indoor obstacle course e.g. crawl over cushion on couch which have been placed on the floor, pile the cushions as high as possible (lifting), and using the cushions as ‘lily pads’ for the child jump frog jump between
- Crunchy/ chewy snacks. These can be provided throughout the day as a ‘top up’ to their sensory diet.
These are those that will help your child’s body to feel calm and collected. Deep pressure touch is calming and regulating, this can be in the form of heavy weighted items such as blankets or vests or as simple as a tight hug.
- Heavy, deep, warm or soft touch is generally CALMING
- Heavy-work activities may be CALMING
- Warm, sweet or chewy foods can be CALMING
- Chewing, sucking and blowing activities can be CALMING
- Slower, rhythmic movement is generally CALMING
- Slow beats and quiet sounds are generally CALMING
- Soft or light and pastel colours may be CALMING
- Sweet flower-based scents tend to be CALMING
Easy Calming activities to do at home:
- Encourage your child to lay on the floor and cover him with a weighted blanket. NOTE: Weight of blanket should only 10% of child’s body weight. Never leave child with weighted blanket unsupervised. Never cover child’s head with a weighted blanket.
- Play calming music, whether that be sounds of rain coming down or the ocean.
- Tight hugs and gentle body squeezes
- Hand, arm or foot massage with or without lotion
- Singing songs
- Being wrapped up like a tortilla in a blanket or duvet
- Blowing bubbles
- Deep pressure using a cushion. Encourage the child to lay on his stomach and slowly push the exercise ball over his feet, legs, trunk and arms.
Examples of Alerting activities:
Examples of Organising activities:
Examples of Calming activities:
If you require further information, have any queries or concerns, please discuss directly with a Glenwood School staff member or an Occupational Therapist.
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