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oral sensory inputAs an Occupational Therapist, I am always teaching families unique ways to sneak in sensory activities throughout the day to keep their family at the desired state of regulation, especially an easy solution like obtaining oral sensory input.

Lunchtime at school is one of those times we don’t really think about as time for a sensory diet activity however, there are a few tips and tricks to sneak in a little sensory treat for your child.

Lunchtime falls around the middle of the school day for kids. Their brains and bodies are need of a boost of nutrition to keep them performing at an optimal state, so we must think healthy and nutritious. We can also give them a little proprioceptive and sensory-based boost in the texture, flavor, and consistency of the snacks we provide.

Here are a few favorites…

The Child Who Needs to Wake Up

Artificial sugar is a no-go from a nutrition standpoint, however fruit contains natural sugars that can give a little boost for kids. For oral sensory input, think crunchy, sour, sweet, and crispy to alert those sensory systems:

– Apples
– Grapefruit
– Oranges
– Pears
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The Child Who Needs Sensory Organization

Chewy and Crunchy snacks can both alert and organize the sensory systems. The lunchroom can often be noisy and overstimulating. These snacks may offer the oral sensory input they need to help during this time of day.

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Granola
Dried Fruit
– Popcorn
Rice Cakes
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Pita Chips
– Whole Chips
– Pretzels or pretzel chips

The Child Who Needs Extra Oral Sensory Input

The use of a straw can give an organizing sense through oral sensory input. This may be suggested for a child who often bites or chews on their clothes, pencils, or toys. The smaller the straw the more oral sensory input. Here are a few snacks that can be slurped through a straw.

– Yogurt
– Applesauce
– Pudding (in moderation of course)
– Smoothie
– Healthy drink options

Talk with your child and learn from them how they feel during and after lunchtime. The answers provided will help you make choices on the best sensory lunch choices they may need. If a packed lunch is not how your family rolls, educate your child on the food choices above and encourage independence in making educated choices during their lunch line selections.