As a parent of a child with sensory issues, I have spent the past few years pouring through books, websites and recommendations for a simple at-home system that our family can use to consistently empower our son to select appropriate activities to regulate his sensory system. While my research has led me to discovering a number of useful ideas and tools, I had yet to find a comprehensive user-friendly system until I learned about BrainWorks – a sensory diet tool.
BrainWorks is a convenient sensory diet tool created by occupational therapist and sensory integration expert, Gwen Wild. For parents, teachers, therapists and other professionals, this sensory diet tool simplifies the process of creating visual sensory diets and teaches children self-modulation through it use. For me, it is the culmination of my search for an ideal sensory diet tool!
A Sensory Diet Tool with Simplistic Explanations
When I look back at the beginning of my research on sensory diets, I experienced a lot of confusion about activities that would be appropriate for over- and under-responders, as well as seeking vs. avoiding behaviors. I cannot help but to wonder how much energy I could have saved if someone had simply handed me the one-page BrainWorks sheet that came in the physical BrainWorks I received.
In a concise manner, this sheet offers both an easy-to-use visual representation of what a “just right” point of modulated calm is and also a cute verbal analogy to Winnie the Pooh. Further, it highlights the fact that what some children may need to get to that “just right” point may seem counter-intuitive: high-intensity activities.
As I look through the many small Activities for Modulation and Routine Activity picture cards provided in the physical kit along with the 4-inch cards provided online, I think, “Oh, the time and energy I could have saved trying to collect and create my own.”
Truly, the breadth of activities included is useful to home, school or an occupational therapy clinic. The graphics make the cards easily “readable” for kids, too! My child, who is just learning to read, can understand them, and that means that he can learn to use these cards independently.
Durable for Repeated Use
Since I do not own a laminator, I appreciate the physical product option that BrainWorks offers. It made moving this system from idea to action very easy for me. I simply popped the provided red, plastic arrow into the tachometer on the BrainWorks folder, separated cards on punched lines, attached velcro and—viola! – the system was ready to put to use.
That said, I also appreciate the lifetime digital access that is offered by BrainWorks because it will allow me to create a Key Ring and First-Then tools as needed. I can easily replace any cards that might come to bad ends in my toddler’s hands. Further, as a homeschooler, the cards available on the site have me thinking about reading and classification activities I could easily create…
Ongoing and Ample Support
As I began clicking through the BrainWorks membership site at BrainWorks, I was wowed by all the “extras” inside. I discovered forms, templates, research, questions-and-answers and more. I decided that the membership to BrainWorks online is now a go-to one-stop resource of tools and information to help me empower both my own sensory kid and those that I tutor.
I also wish I had on hand the Babies and Toddlers Feed the Senses summary sheet when I was just figuring out my child’s needs. I was left wondering how to deal with his needs. I would have loved to have had it on hand with notes to hand to any friends just starting out on a sensory journey.
User-Friendly Sensory Diet Tool
Is BrainWorks really user-friendly? In a word, “Yes!” As I already mentioned, the physical kit that I received in the mail made the system super easy. It was as easy as open the box, quickly read the documentation and get going. The online version is just as easy:
- Select picture cards based on a child’s age and activity needs.
- Print them.
- Cut and paste them to create a variety of tools that are all fully explained on the site.
With these three simple steps, kids can be on their way to modulating themselves. See Gwen’s video below to learn how easy and user-friendly BrainWorks can be.
Parents Seeking Sensory Diet Tools
I know, first-hand, how ensuring an adequate sensory diet for a child can be a challenge even with the help of regular visits to an occupational therapist. Many of the activities available in an occupational therapy clinic cannot be re-created at home. Even with a list of suggested “home” and “school” activities from an occupational therapist, moving from activity idea to actual implementation can be difficult without continual support. BrainWorks offers that support to parents through:
- the web-based BrainWorks product, which guides parents easily through steps to create an adaptable, child-specific visual sensory diet tool;
- a handy sensory symptom checklist and other helpful forms;
- online questions-and-answers moderated by Gwen Wild, OTR/L; and
- access to a wealth of research related to sensory processing and the use of sensory strategies.
Teachers Seeking Sensory Diet Tools
As a former educator and current homeschooler and tutor, I understand that demands on a teacher’s time sometimes conflict with a will to best serve every student. There simply are not enough hours in some days to facilitate lesson planning, teaching, mentoring, assessment and the best accommodations for every child. Add being responsible for creating or implementing a sensory diet for one or more children into the mix and teachers can begin to feel hopeless.
- A parent, special education teacher or classroom teacher can follow simple steps to create individualized visual sensory diet tools that will help students work the body, the brain and the room as needed.
- Tools can be adapted as needed on a day-to-day or week-to-week basis through the many printable Activities for Modulation and Routine Activities cards provided online.
- Information packets and data tracking sheets can easily be printed.
Therapists Seeking Sensory Diet Tools
My child has seen two occupational therapists and one behavior modification therapist regularly in the past. All three professionals provided services I appreciate, however, none of them offered me something I kept asking for:
A user-friendly, child-specific menu of sensory diet activities that both me and my child could access – something beyond book suggestions and photocopied lists of general sensory diet activities. That something is BrainWorks!
BrainWorks offers professionals a way to provide families (and teachers) with a concise, user-friendly tool that empowers children to “own” their ability to modulate themselves though:
- easy-to-create, personalized sensory diet schedules that children can use at home and school;
- forms to guide parents and to help them understand which activities are calming and which are alerting; and
- a variety of ways to present visual cues for sensory diet activities.
Highly Recommended Sensory Diet Tool
In my parental and professional opinion, BrainWorks is an effective tool for any parent, teacher or professional working with children living with:
- Sensory Processing Disorder,
- Sensory Modulation Disorder,
- ADHD, and
- other Special Isms that challenge a child’s ability to modulate the sensory system.
The core product – easy to create and implement visual sensory diet tools – can save everyone time and energy while encouraging children to enjoy more time in a “just right” state.
With BrainWorks, the onus is no longer on the parent or teacher to access hand written notes, page through recommended books or glance at a general photo-copied lists in order to help children. Rather, using File Folder, Key Ring or If-Then Tools that occupational therapists, teachers or parents can easily create online, children can begin to regulate themselves. With guidance, children learn how to evaluate their systems and provide themselves with appropriate input.
Additionally, parents, teachers and occupational therapists can benefit from membership with:
- regular newsletters,
- access to up-to-date research,
- online questions and answers, and
- a variety of helpful forms and templates.
These membership benefits work together to provide BrainWorks users with continued support and information.
Comprehensive, yet user-friendly, BrainWorks can work for you and your child!