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Building A Sensory Diet At Home

4 Key Pieces To Remember

Sensory DietAs a parent of a Complex Learner, you may have heard the term “sensory diet” but were confused about exactly what that is. Well first thing first, this diet has nothing to do with food!  A sensory diet is a series of activities/movements designed to help your child stay regulated.

Complex Learners who struggle with sensory issues benefit from a sensory diet because it provides them the necessary movement and activities to help regulate them throughout the day so they are able to stay regulated longer and focus on the task at hand!

But how do you blend this clinical concept into your everyday life? This week, Occupational Therapist and Wolf’s own Director of Research, Lise Faulise presented on “Building Sensory Diets At Home.” Check out her 4 tips below for building a sensory diet at home!

  1. It should be highly individualized

If you are looking to build a sensory diet for your child or working with a team of professionals – the most important thing to remember is that each sensory diet is different. This is because each Complex Learner is different and a movement that might help calm one child may have the opposite effect on your child.

When building a sensory diet ask yourself questions about what your child seems to avoid and what they seek out? Children need to be motivated and actually enjoy doing these activities so it’s crucial to consider individual preferences.

  1. Make it manageable

As Lise put it – it can be hard enough to remember a 7-digit phone number so don’t make your child’s sensory diet 20 steps that you struggle to remember! Having 5 or 6 effective activities/exercises allows your child’s sensory diet to be much more manageable which means both you and your child will be likely to remember and engage in it!

This mindset can also apply to what you’re incorporating into it. If you are feeling stressed about the idea of having to purchase different equipment, take a look around your home first! For example, consider having your child jump down or up the steps or have your child walk to their bedroom like a crab on all fours!

  1. Don’t underestimate the power of nature

After being in a classroom or at home all day, sometimes one of the most powerful pieces of a sensory diet is just getting outside. As Lise highlights – “Nature can be one of those soothing across the board activities.”

Getting outside into nature, whether it’s a rigorous hike or a slow walk, can help your child reset. This can be as simple as going into your backyard or finding a local park or hiking trail to explore.

  1. Safety is key

It’s important to always keep safety as a top priority. Will these activities be taking place at home or are you relying on a community space? Will your child be supervised or expected to work independently?

Along with these questions, be sure to keep safety at the forefront as you determine the type of movement/activities your child will be doing. A sensory diet should always be done in a safe space and only comprised of activities that your child can do safely.

A sensory diet can be an incredibly helpful addition to your child’s toolkit as it can support learning, social skills, and play. What tips do you have for building a sensory diet and using it at home? Let us know in the comments below!

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