CALMING SENSORY ACTIVITIES FOR YOUR CHILD
– Alexa Brett, COTA/L, Occupational Therapy Assistant
Each child is unique. Here are some sensory strategies that may work for your child. Try one to two at time. If a strategy does not work, it might at a later date. For community outings, put a sensory kit together with your child favorite activities.
– Fidget Toys: stress balls, putty, fuzzy balls, gel balls, Velcro, plastic figurines, Rubber Gumby bendable, soft squares of fabric, textured squares of fabric, bag of dried pasta or beans (make sure your child does not put items in mouth), small paint brush, skin brush or toothbrush, popping beads or tubes.
– Lycra hug: get a piece of Lycra fabric from the fabric store big enough for your child to wrap it around his body for a self-squeeze
– Bucket of dry beans, and pasta: let child run his hands through, put beans in small cup, listen to sound the beans make when they fall down. Make sure your child does not put these dried food items in his mouth.
– Music: some children really respond and organize with music.
– Bath or shower: let child play with the water and enjoy the many sensations this activity provides.
– Bean bags: great for the wrap around feel it provides. A child can use them to sit on, lay on, or as a blanket. Some children really enjoy being sandwiched in between two bean bags with parent giving some targeted squeezes on the top bean bag for extra input and regulation. Always make sure the child feels safe during this activity and that your child can safely breathe.
– Swinging or rocking: linear swinging or rocking in a rocking chair or glider can be calming for some children.
– Fishes/aquarium: Many children seeking visual input are mesmerized by a fish tank. Before investing in one, take your child to a pet store or an Aquarium and see how he/she responds.
– Play the breathing game with your child:
– Teach your child that his/her tummy is a balloon
– Slowly take a deep breath through your nose to make the balloon inflate
– Slowly breathe out through your mouth to make the balloon deflate
– Repeat slowly
– Vibrations: vibrations can be calming for some children. Try a vibrating pillow or a handheld toy massager
– Deep pressure massage or joint pressure
– Weighted vest or lap pillow
– Play the hugging game: go around the house finding things to hug
– Create a safe hideout for your child, a small space…their own little fort
– Reduce strong inputs such as TV or screens (computers, ipads, radio or lights)
– Use white noise music or rhythmic soothing music to help your child calm down
[notice]More information: Child Development Institute is available to answer any of your questions about occupational therapy and to listen to your concerns about your child’s development. For more information on Occupation Therapy, email Director of Clinical Services, Tessa Graham or call 818-888-4559.[/notice]