Sensory input vs. Phoenix Heat

Sensory input vs. Phoenix Heat

During school months, our children are on a very strict routine that involves recess and activity throughout the day that allows kids to fulfill their sensory needs. When summer months hit, temperatures rise and routines are altered, parents find themselves just trying to make it through each day. Sensory diets are very important in the development of our growing children, and if there is no input throughout the day parents might start to see behaviors or “old habits” coming back.

What is a sensory diet? A sensory diet is just like any other diet, it is something that involves routine, structure and consistency. Doing activities throughout the day that give children’s sensory system what is subconsciously needing: vestibular input, proprioceptive input, olfactory input, auditory input, oral input, and tactile input. It is activities done throughout the day that is going to decrease the energy levels and ideally decrease meltdowns or the severity of them. 

As the temperatures continue to rise in these hot summer months, parents might find that their child is being “cooped up” inside making the activity difficult to incorporate throughout the day. When the only times that the park would seem even approachable is before the sun is up and then at bedtime, going outside is a difficult and forced task for everyone involved. It is time to drop the tablets, turn off the TV’s and encourage your kids to participate in these fun, safe indoor activities to fulfill their sensory needs. 

Vestibular:

  • Swinging in a blanket swing (have child lay in blanket and have two adults each hold an end and lift to swing back and forth)
  • Hanging upside down over a couch/bed)
  • Swaying or slowly dancing to music
  • Yoga (especially inversion poses)
  • Sitting on a gliding chair or couch
  • Running in large circles
  • Spinning on a swivel chair (allow child to do themselves)
  • Cartwheels
  • Jump rope 
  • Playing leap frog
  • Standing upside down with feet on the wall
  • Wheel barrow walking 
  • Bouncing on a large ball 
  • Log rolling 
  • Playing twister

Tactile

  • Clothespins 
  • Cookie cutters
  • Do-A-Dot markers
  • Dominoes
  • Hole punches
  • Jenga
  • Kinetic sand 
  • Sensory bins (rice, beans, pasta, water beads)
  • Legos
  • Magnetic letters
  • Modeling Clay
  • Pipe Cleaners
  • Puzzles
  • Shaving Cream
Proprioceptive:

  • Obstacle courses in the house
  • Carrying laundry baskets around
  • Going up and down the stairs
  • Vacuum
  • Rolling up into a “taco or burrito” (blanket)
  • Massages/joint compressions

Auditory:

  • White noise
  • Nature sounds
  • Ocean sounds 
  • Favorite songs (dance to)

Olfactory (nose):

  • Scented playdoh 
  • Cook and bake together
  • Scented stuffed animal 
  • Paint with spices
  • Essential oils (be sure to read correct dilutions)

Oral

  • Drinking through a straw (smoothies, milkshakes- thick drinks)
  • Chewlery 
  • Crunchy foods (carrots, pretzels, apples)
  • Blow cotton balls across the table (race)
  • Vibrating toothbrush 
  • Chewy foods (bagels, bread, gum- if age appropriate)

Allowing children, the opportunity to participate in multiple sensory activities throughout the day will not only be beneficial to your child but will also make a substantial difference with increased attention to tasks, bedtime cooperation, listening and following simple directions. 

If you have any questions in regards to sensory processing or sensory diets, contact T.E.A.M. 4 Kids to schedule an evaluation with an occupational therapist at our Surprise location or at our Peoria location.

 

Breanna Aker, COTA/L