If your child is diagnosed with sensory processing disorder (SPD) often his occupational therapist will plan a Sensory Diet to help him. What is SPD? Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) or, as if was called before Sensory Integration Disorder, is a complex disorder of the brain that affects one in twenty people. Sensory processing disorder is a neurological disorder causing difficulties with taking in, processing, and responding to sensory information about the environment and from within one’s own body. Individuals can be hypersensitive or hyposensitive to varying degrees and may have trouble with one of the senses, a few, or all of them.
The Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation ‘s web site states:”In children who are gifted and those with ADHD, autism, and fragile X syndrome, the prevalence of SPD is much higher than in the general population.” When a child has symptoms of sensory processing disorders, parents are often referred to an Occupational Therapist trained to help such a child.
Each child is different and has different needs that vary during the day. Parents are in the best position to observe and note their child’s behavior. Therefore, they should keep a daily journal of their child’s reactions as this will be of great value for the occupational therapist. Often children with sensory issues will be helped with a Sensory Diet.
What is a Sensory Diet?
If the OT determines that a Sensory Diet (coined by OT Patricia Wilbarger) would benefit a child, activities will be carefully designed to meet his/her particular needs. Then parents will implement these personalized activities or accommodations at home varying them and adjusting them to meet the sensory needs of their child on that particular day or even hour! At school, if a child has an Individualized Education Program (IEP), his Sensory Diet activities may take place there also.
From Wikipedia, “The sensory diet is a schedule of daily activities that gives the child the sensory fuel their body needs to get into an organized state and stay there. According to Sensory Integration (SI) theory, rather than just relying on individual treatment sessions, ensuring that a carefully designed program of sensory input throughout the day is implemented at home and at school can create profound, lasting changes in the child’s nervous system.”
Some examples of activities in a Sensory Diet for smell/taste/oral comforts could be:
- Sniff spices and herbs
- Explore tastes: sweet, salty, sour, spicy, bitter
- Explore textures: crunchy, creamy, chewy, lumpy
- Use age appropriate “chewy”
Eh! Our chewable necklaces or Clip-ons chewy mouth or hand fidgets called KidCompanions Chewelry or SentioCHEWS, are an ingredient in Sensory Diets and recommended items in a Sensory Box. These Canadian made oral motor tools are safe to place in mouth (no toxic materials, no breakaway pieces). The CE marked KidCompanions and Tougher-than-Silicone SentioCHEWS have a CPSIA compliance certificate that proves their safety and are recommended by occupational therapist and parents alike. But best of all they have pleasurable textures, hard and rubbery to satisfy the urge to chew, bite or fidget.
Does your child find comfort in his Sensory Diet? What are some of the Sensory Diet activities you do with your child?