vestibular input

What is a Sensory Diet?

What is a Sensory Diet?

Having a sensory diet.  This has nothing to do with what your child eats or does not eat.  The first time I took Sofia to an occupational therapist she kept mentioning putting her on a “diet” to help her sensory needs.  I was so confused.  I literally interrupted her and told her listen I am all for trying anything to help my kid, but she already is so picky (more than the average toddler) with what she eats and is only in the 33% weight percentage…what kind of food are you suggesting?  Then she cracked a smile and laughed.  She filled me in on what the heck she was talking about and recommended a book for me to read. I will get to that in a minute.

So Sensory Processing Disorder or S.P.D. is a condition in which the brain has trouble receiving and responding to information that comes in through the senses.  Oversensitive or under sensitive to their surroundings, their body, and their environment.  It may affect one sense, like hearing, touch, or taste. Or it may affect multiple senses. Also, children can be over- or under-responsive to the things or senses they have difficulties with.

This post contains affiliate links.  All opinions are 100% my own. Please read disclosure here.

My child has mixed symptoms with touch (hair brushing, wearing certain clothes, doesn’t like top sheets, etc.) and she is a “sensory seeker” that has also has bounds of energy.  Sensory seeking behavior simplified is your child is seeking sensory input and will do behaviors to get that input.

Sensory Diet

Like I said, a sensory diet has nothing to do with food. It’s a personalized series of physical activities and accommodations tailored to your child to give them the sensory input they are seeking or need. Sensory diets are used as part of their sensory processing therapy.  Having a sensory diet helps children with S.P.D. get their bodies and brain in sync which in turn helps them stay focused in school, follow directions, ability to learn and play appropriately with their peers.

Sofia’s occupational therapist recommended this book: The Out of Sync Child: Recognizing and Coping with Sensory Processing Disorder” by C.S. Kranowitz.  Fantastic read and really helps explain what your child or family member may be going through.  So if Grandma does not understand what you mean (like I used to) when you say she needs/wants to spin around for vestibular input…this book will help explain it!

Examples of sensory seeking behaviors are:

  • Loves washing hands, playing in water, mud, seeking dirty types of play
  • Dumping toy bins rummaging through them aimlessly
  • Chewing on objects or clothing
  • Rubbing against walls or furniture and bumping into people
  • Loves spinning in circles, making themselves dizzy, constantly moving
  • Fidgets, has difficulty sitting still and takes bold risks
  • Frequently wants bear hugs and vigorous playground activities
  • Loves loud noises, TV or music volume, crowds and places with lots of action
  • Problems sleeping
  • May lick or taste inedible objects and prefers spicy or hot foods
  • Frequently attempt to engage in rough play, such as wrestling
  • Stomping their feet when they walk
  • Jumping or climbing

Sensory Seeking aids:

Below are some of the sensory aids I use to help Sofia with her sensory diet.  Having these aids around are not just helpful in the moment when you may need to use as a calm down aid but it just helps their overall ability to focus, attention, and general happiness to have healthy ways (safer) to get the input they are seeking.

I mentioned vestibular input previously and if your child loves spinning, jumping or climbing they maybe trying to get that type of sensory input.  Vestibular input has to do with the movement of the inner ear and with balance (why they may be clumsy or have no fear). Having movement that involves the head in many different positions is considered vestibular. Proprioception is sensory input from the large muscle groups (legs and arms) and the spine. Hence wanting to jump, move heavy things, loves to climb etc.

Extra large bean bag.  This was a great purchase. You stuff it with all the stuffed animals (dust catchers) that your child can not part with which forms your bean bag.  This is used as a comfy place to read, calm down area or we use it for her to safely jump from her bed to get the sensory input she is seeking.  Having something to crash into is really helpful.  Great add to their sensory diet.

Squishy Stress Relief Sensory Toys Fidget Spiky Ball

 Sensory processing aids

These come 5 to a package and are another great sensory aid to help calm, reduce anxiety, or re-direct focus.  Sofia has problems with staying still in her seat or paying attention. This is something I may bring for her to have at a restaurant or for her to have available at nap time at school. For some reason just holding one helps her relax and take her nap. 

Tangle Jr.

Sensory processing, sensory diet, sensory aids

This is your typical “fidget toy” 3 come in the pack.  This is known to Sofia as her “hand helper” both her teacher and I refer to it as the hand helper instead of calling it her fidget toy.  She uses her hand helper at circle time or during learning lessons and holds it under the table.  This helps her focus and pay more attention to the activity she is to be a part of.  Also, very helpful for when we go out to eat.

Wiggle seat: Wiggle seat is just what it says…if your child fidgets, wiggles or gets out of their seat constantly; try this product.  Helps build their stomach muscles and makes their body to stabilize its self.   Which in turn, helps stay in their seat and focus. This one is adjustable to how big you need the seat and what your child finds comfortable.  One side has spikes and one is more flat. Try them both out to see which one works. Another bonus is that the wiggle seat also improves posture.

Sensory Bottles

Check out my DIY Sensory Bottle post here.  Sensory bottles are super easy and fun to make. Sensory bottles or calm-down bottles are a wonderful useful calming tool for toddlers or children with sensory needs, anxiety, or those that need help with self-regulation or transitioning to the next activity. Sensory bottles act as a “calm-down” aid by helping them re-focus their attention on the objects, colors, and movement in the bottle. Some moms use them during their child’s time-out periods. My daughter primarily uses it at bedtime to help her settle down for story time and help with the transition of night time.

Little Tikes Trampoline   Great indoor trampoline for 3-6 year olds. Kids that like to jump or are seeking that input, can use this sensory aid to add into their sensory diet.

I hope you find some of these strategies or tips helpful for those children that have sensory processing issues and need to have a sensory diet.  If you enjoyed this post, check out some of my sensory activity posts, try my Ice Sensory or Fluffy Slime!

author of my silly monkey, carrie

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sensory activities, sensory bottle, calm down aid, diy sensory aid

Sensory Bottles With Sequins

Sensory Bottles With Sequins

Making sensory bottles or calm down bottles for my daughter has been fun and a great parenting tool. Sensory bottles act as a “calm-down” aid by helping them re-focus their attention on the objects, colors, and movement in the bottle. It has been helpful during time-out periods when she needs to calm down, help her settle down for story time, and help with the transition of night time. She likes to use certain ones at certain times. So, I thought I would add another to her sensory bottle collection.  Depending what you put objects you put in your bottle and what you mix with the water, determines the speed and mobility of the object.  For example, I found using glitter glue and a little soap slows the fall of the sequins compared to just water and soap.

For those who haven’t read my post on how to make sensory bottles the process making sensory bottles with sequins is still very simple.

This post contains affiliate links.  All opinions are 100% my own. Please read disclosure here.

Supplies to make sensory bottles with sequins:

How to make sensory bottles with sequins:

  • Remove the label on the bottle (if you have to use goo gone-usually it just peels off).
  • Empty about a half of the water.
  • Squeeze about 2-3 ounces of the glitter glue into the water. I used a Vos bottle which is a little smaller than the Core bottles I typically use. So If you use a Core bottle water, use the entire 4 ounces of glitter glue.
  • Add your sequins. I did about 3 handfuls. Before you add your soap the sequins will just sit on top of the water.
  • Add clear or colored dishwashing soap to the bottle.   I just squeeze a little at a time and see if I like it.  For the sequin bottle, I used less soap than my glitter calm-down bottle. Only about 1 tablespoon to start.
  • Don’t glue the lid shut right away. Play around with it. You may find you want to change things around. Add more water, more sequins or glitter glue.

For some reason even though I used green glitter glue and clear soap, the water turned pink.  Naturally, Sofia didn’t mind, as that is her favorite color.  I think it is from the red and pink sequins bleeding into the water.  Would be interesting to experiment with trying to use dye and try to color it a specific color.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That is all you need to do! I hope you add this sensory activity into your toddler’s activities rotation, it is a great one to try!  Or another very easy DIY sensory activity is my rainbow rice sensory box.

author of my silly monkey, carrie

 

Visual Morning Schedule

Visual Schedule

Visual Schedule!

There are many benefits to using a visual schedule with your child.  Visual schedules or visual charts can be a powerful tool for keeping your child organized, staying focused, and reducing meltdowns.  You may have read some of my posts that mention my daughter and some of her sensory issues.   This post will help you understand why using a visual schedule not only helps the average child but for children with autism, A.D.D., anxiety, or sensory issues it makes a huge difference.

This post contains affiliate links.  All opinions are 100% my own. Please read disclosure here.

Sofia’s daycare readiness level for elementary school is high, which means their format for the day is very structured.  Having sensory challenges she needs extra aids (wiggle seat, hand fidget, etc.) to help her achieve her classroom activities and goals.  Starting in the fall she will enter V.P.K., so currently she is at the point where her day at school is filled with various learning centers, circle times, and even assigned little jobs, etc.  To keep the children on track, the teachers use visual schedules for the week and for each day.  This helps the children immensely (especially Sofia) with the transition of each center or to stay in her space and complete tasks.  It only made sense for me to start using a visual schedule at home for her morning and night time routines.

Prior to using the visual schedule I was starting to sound like a possessed demon trying not to scream or lose my shizit before leaving for work in the morning.  I can’t count how many times I will repeat myself (Beg) to Please. Finish. Eating. or Please Put Your Shoes On!! I mean 20 minutes to eat one plain soft waffle (because we don’t like butter) or a bowl of Cheerios and I just get a bit cranky.  I literally want to rip my eyebrows out. Can anyone relate??

Therefore using a visual schedule or chart with pictures at home was simply a no-brainer. Having a visual daily schedule for Sofia has improved our morning and nighttime routines dramatically and improved our day-to-day-life.  I also created a “First and Then” Chart.  When I need to redirect or have Sofia finish a chore etc. I use this to show her First we will put away our toys and Then we can watch TV.  Seeing it visually for some reason becomes easier for her to stay on track.  This also works great for when she has to finish a chore (put away her toys) first so that then she can watch a t.v. show.

Visual Night time schedule

Visual Night time schedule

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First and Then Chart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So if you are looking to help your child with their daily routines and transitions, or you need to save your sanity,  I highly recommend either getting some of these visual schedules from my resource library or making your own.  To assemble, you print out the schedule and picture tasks and then laminate the sheet and each of the pictures.  Lastly, you apply velcro to the visual schedule or first and then sheet and then to the back of the pictures. Voila! You are on the road to an easier life for you and your child.

author of my silly monkey, carrie

 

 

 

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