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The Hood Magazine

Are you Sensory Smart?

Dec 05, 2020 09:37AM ● By By: Kristin Wittmayer, MS OTR/L Visions Therapy Center

By: Kristin Wittmayer, MS OTR/L Visions Therapy Center 

Let’s face it...2020 was a crazy year with upended routines challenging all families. When schedules are chaotic and routines disrupted, kids with sensory processing challenges have an especially difficult time navigating. We collect information from the world around us using our senses of hearing, sight, smell, taste, and touch. What can you do to empower your kids and their senses? Multi-sensory learning and activities should be utilized for all children!  

Turn off the screens and MOVE! Stuck indoors? Have family gym time with jumping jacks, pushups, burpees, planks, or even running the stairs. Able to be outside? Have your child push snow with a shovel, pull a loaded sled, or use the sled to go down a hill! All are great ways to burn a little extra energy and refocus the child especially after being seated at school all day.  

Build a retreat space for your children. If afterschool time is a hard time at your house, give your kids an electronics-free retreat space. Retreat areas allow kids to remove themselves from the situation, regroup, and return. It can be a calm quiet space- a tent outfitted with soft things or it can be an active area with space to run, jump, shoot hoops, play catch or kick balls.  

Have alternative seating options. Move ‘n Sit cushion, T-Stool, Wobble chair/band, or exercise balls encourage many muscle groups to participate using up extra energy, but also helping the child feel more secure when asked to sit and concentrate.  

Weight and pressure! Give your kids a big old squeeze! You can also use lap snakes, compression clothing, or weighted blankets to help ground their muscle input. 

Sensory integration helps a child better understand sensory information coming in and develop appropriate responses as output. If your child struggles, we can evaluate your child’s skills and compare them for what is age appropriate. A program can then be designed to help your child progress by challenging them at the right level, building self-esteem and confidence.