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What is a Sensory Diet and How it can Help Sensory Processing Disorder?

Sensory issues happen when a child has difficulties in receiving or responding to information. In such cases, occupational therapists use different strategies to help kids get the right input. The use of sensory diets is quite common, and it involves various activities to help kids better process stimulation.

What is a sensory diet?

A sensory diet is an approach used to manage sensory-motor integration dysfunction in kids. It involves various activities and exercises to help kids get the necessary sensory input. It’s important with this strategy to remember that all children have unique needs and require different sensory activities.

For instance, a very active child who’s always on the go needs a sensory diet comprised of calming activities in order to offer a grounding input. On the other hand, a child who always appears tired and sluggish requires a diet full of alerting activities for an arousing input.

Some commonly used sensory diet activities are;

  • Wheelbarrow walking
  • Cycling
  • Swings
  • Tumble play

What are the signs of a sensory processing disorder?

Sensory processing disorders are more common in kids than in adults. The conditions effect your brain functioning and how it processes sensory information. This includes what you see, smell, touch, or taste. This disorder can impact all your senses or just a few.

The signs of oversensitivity in kids are;

  • Complaining that lights are too bright
  • Thinking sounds are too loud.
  • Fear of playing in swings
  • Problems experiencing different food textures
  • Thinking that clothes are itchy or too scratchy
  • Behavioral problems

How does a sensory diet help in sensory processing disorders?

 Most kids are unable to recognize when they aren’t in the right state to process what’s happening. However, a sensory diet can help your child to become alert and more aware. If you notice signs of sensory disorders in your child, talking to an occupational therapist will go a long way towards helping them.

Such specialists can design the right routine activities depending on your child’s needs. Most of the activites your child will do at home under your supervision. If you can’t access a therapist, you can involve your child in some sensory activities by yourself.

A sensory diet benefits people with sensory disorders in multiple ways, these are;

  • Enhanced processing and understating of sensory information
  • Improved attention and self-regulation, and alertness
  • Decreased non-purposeful movements on hyperactive children
  • Improved movement in sluggish kids
  • Improved independence on daily activities and function
  • Maximum functional ability for day-to-day tasks
  • Easy transitioning from one task to another

That’s not all, though! A sensory diet also involves the use of other sensory products to help meet a child’s needs. These are handy for kids with sensory disorders and they include;

Sensory sock: A sensory sock is a stretchy full-body sack that offers calming and deep pressure.

Rocker board: A rocker board is ideal for kids seeking movement input. Your child can use it to sway from side to side while maintaining the right balance.

Crash pad: You can use this pad for jumping, crawling, or rolling to get the right tactile and proprioceptive input.

The bottom line

Sensory diets benefit children with sensory problems in numerous ways. To get the most out of the sensory diet program, work closely with your child’s occupational therapist. Also, observe your child daily and pay attention to any difficulties. Finally, follow a normal daily routine.

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