If you have more than one ‘sensational’ kid in your house, trying to coordinate and organize each child’s sensory diet can be an overwhelming task, especially if each child’s needs are on opposite ends of the sensory spectrum.
In our house, my daughter is almost exclusively a sensory avoider with motor planning isms, dyspraxia and high vestibular and proprioceptive needs. My son, on the other hand, is almost exclusively a sensory seeker with speech/language barriers, eating isms, motor planning and other developmental delays. Obviously they need very unique sensory diets because their input needs are so different plus they need different amounts at different times throughout the day. A parent or teacher in such a situation could spend their entire day just trying to coordinate each child’s sensory input needs. How exhausting! But there are ways to get diverse ‘sensational’ children’s general sensory needs met all the same time then find time for individual needs later on.
A Trip to the Playground
The playground is a perfect place to get almost every sensory need met. Spending at least ½ an hour swinging, jumping, climbing, pulling, sliding, pushing, running, making sandcastles, walking on balance beams, etc. In addition to all of that, our kids can also have opportunities to practice their social skills.
Both of my children were terrified of the water at first, especially the splashing or being laid back into the water. Now, it’s one of their favorite activities. Swimming is probably one of the best forms of sensory input because you get tactile (splashing, water games), body awareness (floating, swimming underwater), balance and coordination (playing with floaty toys), vestibular (going down water slides, jumping into the water) and proprioception (kicking arms and legs, using pool noodles or water weights). We can find different things to do each time we go to the pool.
If you live somewhere where it snows, no need to stay inside. Bundle up and get those kiddos out there! My daughter loves eating fresh snow, jumping in it, throwing snowballs against our fence or the side of our house and making snow people. Their favorite winter activity is tobogganing. They get vestibular input zooming down the hill and proprioception when trudging up the hill. And, if you’re little ones are up for it, you can work on body awareness and coordination by trying ice skating, skiing and other winter sports. (bookmark this for winter)
You don’t have to have your child on an actual team—just learning the rules of the game and trying the game is all that matters. Sports like soccer, baseball, basketball, and football are all wonderful ways to get the body going and the muscles working. Plus, you’ll be teaching him other important skills such as motor planning, following rules and playing fair.
Working in the Garden
This is one we definitely have to do when my tactile defensive kids are in the mood for some messy work. Gardening is a wonderful multi-sensory activity. Digging, planting, moving a wheelbarrow, smelling flowers, seeing all the beautiful colors, feeling the different textured plants and leaves, picking flowers or vegetables, watering the garden, and the list goes on. There is hours of entertainment in the garden and think of all the sensory input they’ll get!
Give some of these activities a try and assign tasks or offer ideas to the children who have various sensory input needs. Always be sure to have calm down time with some sort of deep massage (eg: Pizza Game, Sandwich Game or Hot Dog Game), music, dim lights or other calming strategies. After some great input like that, your child’s body should be well ‘fed’ sensory-wise and you can then move forward and meet their individual needs.