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What is a Sensory Diet?

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Does your child have difficulty transitioning between environments? For example – from inside to outside, home to riding in the car, or while visiting with family. There may be a reason for this (other than wanting to give parents a hard time)!

Some children have sensory processing disorders which may make them overly sensitive or under responsive to one or more aspects of our sensory systems (tactile, proprioceptive, vestibular, auditory, visual, taste and smell). If this is the case, children may not be receiving sensory input correctly from the environment or they could be having trouble registering the input, resulting in an atypical response or behavior.

This type of disrupted sensory processing can be addressed through the use of a Sensory Diet. A Sensory Diet is a schedule which has sensory breaks for activities to assist children with optimal function throughout the day.

An Occupational Therapist is key in assisting families with deciding the appropriate frequency, intensity and duration of activities.

Some behaviors that may be observed with sensory processing deficits could include:

  • Avoids affectionate touch
  • Bothered by tags, waistbands
  • Startles easily
  • Does not seem to notice cuts
  • Constantly in motion
  • Loves tight hugs
  • Does not respond to bumps and falls appropriately
  • Dislikes leaning back for hair washing or being on his back.
  • Loves shiny or moving objects
  • Prefers shade
  • Strong feeding preferences

If you feel that your child is having sensory processing issues, a prescription for an Occupational Therapist evaluation will help you get a Sensory Diet established.