Does your child with autism become sensitive to sounds, smells and is a picky eater? Does your child with another disability become hyperactive, when asked to sit for a long period of time? These are all signs of sensory integration disorder (SID). This article will discuss the sensory diet that is used for children with SID.
Sensory Integration Disorder is the inability of the brain to correctly process information brought in by the senses. SID can show itself in many different ways. A child with SID may be over or under sensitive to sounds, smells, may be a picky eater (does not like the way certain foods feel in their mouth), may not like the way certain clothes feel on their skin. Many children with autism and learning disabilities have sensory integration issues.
Children with SID may also have motor skill issues such as; difficulty with fine and gross motor skills, difficulty imitating movements, or has trouble with balance.
Treatment is usually carried out by a occupational therapist, with experience in treating children with sensory integration disorder. A sensory diet can also be put together, specifically for your child. The diet can be used at home as well as at school.
A sensory diet means that you are including sensory activities, within your child’s day; at home and at school. Each child’s sensory diet is different, depending on your child’s specific SI needs. Ask your child’s occupational therapist to help you set up a sensory diet, to meet your child’s unique needs.
For Example: If your child becomes hyperactive on a regular basis, or perhaps prone to hitting or pinching, or being silly, or laughs for no reason a sensory diet may help. Giving your child sensory activities on a frequent regular basis, will help him to remain focused and in control more often.
A sample sensory diet is listed below:
At critical points during your child’s day:
1. Swinging in a special swing or on a playground
2. Chase games such as tag, or running races
3. Jumping jacks, stretching, sit ups, balance beam
4. Trampoline, tire swing, exercise ball
5. Squeezables such as nerf balls, silly putty etc.
Every half hour if possible; to include the above:
6. Smelling scents game
7. Rubbing/or brushing with a specific type brush (Ask occupational therapist for type of brush to use, and how to do this technique), not to include the stomach.
8. Jump rope
Calming activities that you can use at home:
a. Morning: Bath, brushing, deep pressure.
b. After school: Child’s choice (biking, running, skating).
c. Evening: Supper, bath, deep pressure.
Using a sensory diet on a child who has SID, can cause a dramatic improvement in their behavior and ability to focus. The items listed are easy to do at home and school. You may have to advocate for sensory breaks for your child, but remind special education personnel about how much it could benefit your child.