I remember back when I didn’t know what a “sensory diet” was. I thought that a student of mine was going to eat lots of foods, but really experience them with his senses!
Now, years later, my daughter is on a sensory diet, which really has nothing to do with food. The Bean has sensory processing disorder. Because she was in so much pain, from her GERD, when she was a newborn, her brain has adjusted her tolerance for pain and other sensations. She is underresponsive to tactile (touch and pain), proprioceptive (pressure and feeling her body in space), and vestibular (balance, spinning, and swinging). She is borderline with auditory and oral sensations as well. Because she didn’t feel much, she would “seek” out these sensations. Her seeking was sometimes minor things, like spinning a lot, or crying when we stopped swinging her (to the point of having a tantrum). Or more disconcerting things, like opening and closing a door repetitively, or pulling her hair out.
The good news is that her sensory diet has eliminated her seeking behaviors, increased her talking, and improved her overall behavior. Sensory activities–maybe not as many as the Bean needs–are good for any kid, so I will share what we do.
–Beanie gets brushed, with a soft surgical brush, 2-3 times a day. After she gets brushed, we do joint compressions.
–At OT, the Bean loves being swung. So we hung a hammock with the ends close together, to make a swing in the basement. She goes in that 2-3 times a day, for 20 minutes at a time. She loves it!
–The Bean was kicking her door–not out of anger–in order to fall asleep. So we started having her jump on a matress everyday. Within 2 days, she stopped kicking the door.
–She takes a bubble bath every evening.
–She was chewing on everything recently, so we got her an electric toothbrush. She loves it, uses it whenever she wants during the day, and she has cut down on her chewing.
–Oh, and her school OT said that sailing is an excellent vestibular activity!
The Bean goes to sensory integration therapy twice a week (she has 4 total days of therapy a week, both private and through the school). And they will be able to do sensory activities with her at preschool in the fall.