These Sensory Diet Ideas for Sensory Seekers may be helpful if your child struggles with sensory processing disorder and needs extra sensory feedback. Work them in throughout the day to help the child regulate their behavior, attention and emotion.
This post will not be for everyone. But if you have a child with sensory processing issues, specifically a sensory seeker, this might be helpful. I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately and educating myself about Sensory Processing Disorder. There are several components and I’m not an expert but the one we deal with at our house is sensory seeking. One podcast I listened to said that to understand what your sensory seeking kid is living with you should imagine living your life underwater. That’s why they’re so loud, constantly fidgeting and moving. They’re seeking out those sensations that are muted to them.
If you’re interested in reading more about SPD or are wondering if your child may be dealing with it, here are a few resources:
- The Out of Sync Child by Carol Kranowitz (Aff link) – A great book that explains SPD in an easy to understand way with lots of checklist, examples, etc
- The Out of Sync Child Has Fun by Carol Kranowitz (aff link) – lots of activity ideas for kids with SPD
- The STAR Institute for SPD – a great website with lots of info, resources, checklists etc
A few excerpts from The Out of Sync Child that describe a sensory seeker:
- “He may be a ‘toucher and a feeler’ a ‘bumper and a crasher’. His brain and body are telling him he must act but he often acts in a disorganized way.”
- “He may chew on his shirt cuffs and collars for extra input.”
- “To get vestibular sensations, the child may seek to resist gravity in unusual ways. For instance, she may hang over the edge of her bed, or place her head down on the floor and pivot around it.”
- “The child may frequently seek intense movement sensations such as jumping from the top of the jungle gym or running fast when a sedate pace would do.”
- “The sensory craving child is a ‘bumper and a crasher’ He craves active movement, pushing, pulling, making ‘crash landings’ by throwing himself to the ground, and lunging into walls, tables and people. He craves passive input to muscles and joints, as well, such as strong bear hugs and being pressed, squeezed or pummeled while roughhousing.”
- “The sensory craver loves crowds and places with noisy action. He welcomes loud noises and usually wants to turn the volume up. He may make his own noisy sounds, using his ‘outside voice’ in the classroom and kitchen and clapping and singing boisterously.”
Sensory Diet Ideas
In our case, we deal with his sensory seeking behaviors at home but not at school. So, while an evaluation at school wasn’t helpful for us, it can be a good place to start if you’re concerned. We had an evaluation done by a private occupational therapist and began private OT. I’ve been working with our OT to develop a sensory diet to be used at home. A sensory diet isn’t actually food-related. It’s a collection of activities that can be done throughout the day to help a child meet their sensory threshold and regulate behavior. Over the years I’ve found a lot of activities that work for us. However, I found myself not doing them consistently and struggling to remember them when I needed them most.
So I made a list of all the things that have been helpful for us. Then I used The Noun Project, a great free website for images, to add a picture to each activity. (I also used The Noun Project to get images for my 75 Acts of Kindness for Kids free printable booklet!) I printed out my list, cut the ideas out and glued them on popsicle sticks and stuck them in a jar. Now both my son and I have all the ideas in an easily accessible place. We can choose a stick when we need an activity break or pick a few and combine them. It’s an easy way to give him some input into what activities we do to help calm his body down.
If you want a free printable version of our list, enter your email in the box below! Remember that this list is customized to us so some of the activities may not work for your child but you can always add more activities specific to them!
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Lindsay, great ideas . . .regardless if you have a child who is neurotypical or have SPD. Our son is autistic, coupled with SPD – we use a lot of these things. Carrying stuff up and down the stairs is a big one for us. We also use a big bean bag-type chair as a crashpad . . .he loves it!
Laura Delamater says
Oh my goodness, I think you are a soul mate I didn’t know I needed! This is brilliant, I was here amazed each time I clicked next on your recipes- I am sure you are subjected to enough auto immune/liver/cholangitis not working digestive stories in your work life: BUT I am unable to eat anything I do not make now, and have a slew of sensitivities that I have to be incredibly careful of (down to 96 so flares that cause loss leaves me beyond sick) -and super excited about so many of them. Some I have almost gotten to in this journey, but you filled in some gaps too, and don’t use horrid coconut oil, fake sugars, and almost all I can easily make GF. Then I found this! My ASD/SPD miracle has so many food issues (I often make 4 meals.. sigh.. and needs constant sensory stimulation when elevated. We have pictorial ‘tool box’ charts- but lately he has been attacking and destroying these first during events (even when laminated- twice) but these he can break which would take the emphasis off of the ripping!
I am rambling, I am so grateful for you, your blog, your efforts, and you willingness to share. Thank you from my heart to yours.
Hi Lindsay! I am also a dietitian and I have followed your blog for a long time. Your blog actually inspired me to start my own blog. Anyways, I randomly came across this post on sensory diet on Pinterest and was super surprised to see it was one of yours! We recently found out that we also have a sensory seeker. Just wanted to say that I love what your doing and keep up the amazing work!
Esther Yu says
I started searching for something, anything, to help me figure out how to better support my sensory-seeking son. Thank you for sharing recommended readings and aiding in better clarity for me and some pretty awesome ideas. Thanks for taking the time to share your hard work and research.