Christmas Mindfulness

Use this Christmas mindfulness activity as a coping strategy for kids during the holidays.

If Christmas mindfulness is something you would like to achieve this holiday season, we’ve got a seasonal strategy for you. This deep breathing Christmas tree exercise is sure to be a go-to Christmas season mindfulness activity that supports self-regulation needs for kids and families. Use this holiday sensory tool along with our breathing star.

Christmas Mindfulness

This time of year, most of us knee deep in holiday planning, prep work, and to-do lists! Having a few mindfulness for kids tools up your sleeve is a good idea this time of year. Today, I wanted to provide some tips on mindfulness during the holidays.

For our kids with self-regulation needs or emotional regulation challenges that impact learning, emotions, anxiety, or worries, the holiday season can be a time of even more concern.

Over the holidays, school and routines are off. There may be late nights at holiday parties, parents out for work events, unfamiliar family and friends visiting, new sights and sounds. All of this sensory input and environmental input can put a regulation system on overdrive.

Then, in the school environment, there may be school parties, special events, and special themed days. The classroom Christmas party (or winter party) can be cause for sensory overload for some kids. Picture a classroom full of excited children at the end of a semester. The noises, sights, and environmental input can be just too much.

In the community, there is holiday music, crowds, and a sense of excitement in the air. This can be a reason all its own for Christmas mindfulness tools.

Then imagine the child with regulation needs at a family party with unfamiliar guests, a scratchy sweater, strange smells, and lots of noise. A Christmas mindfulness tool that the child can pull out and use to ease worries or stressors can be a great strategy for this time of year.

Kids are barraged by schedule changes, anticipation of holiday events, later bedtimes, holiday travel, parent/teacher stress, increased sugar…and more. They feel these big feelings and can “lose it”, seemingly at the drop of a hat. Children can melt down in front of our eyes. This time of year perhaps especially, there is SO much going on inside those little bodies and minds. Focusing on mindfulness and coping strategies can help.

I mean, think about it this way: We as adults are totally stressed out by deadlines, shopping lists, travel, extended family, holiday budgets, and the never-ending to-do lists.

Our kids see that stress and anxiety.

Think about our kiddos with sensory struggles. They are bombarded by lights and music, hustle and bustle in the grocery store, shopping mall, and even by the neighborhood lights. The later bedtimes and influx of sensory input is a challenge to process for them. It’s overwhelming and exhausting.

Think about our students with praxis or motor issues. There are crowds to navigate, auditorium stages to maneuver and they need to do it FAST. There are schedules to maintain and growing to-do lists!

And that’s just the beginning. All of our kids…no matter what their strengths or needs be…struggle with the change in routines, the adult stress, anticipation, holiday projects, gift giving issues, that extra sugar from holiday sweets, itchy holiday sweaters and scratchy tights, or mom’s stress from holiday traffic.

That “iceberg” of underlying issues and concerns is a holiday version that leads to emotional breakdowns, poor coping skills, and sensory meltdowns.

Now, think about the kiddo with executive functioning challenges. They can’t plan ahead or prioritize tasks when they have a holiday letter to write, a classroom sing-along to practice for, and Grandma’s house to visit next weekend. It’s hard for them to function when their routine is off kilter and anticipation is high.

Christmas Mindfulness Activity

Below, you will find a Christmas mindfulness activity and some coping strategies to address the holiday stress. This mindfulness tool goes along well with our Pumpkin deep breathing exercise, and Thanksgiving mindfulness activity.

Christmas mindfulness activity for kids during the holiday season.

When we think about the holidays from the perspective of a child. Having a set of mindfulness activities for kids is a great way to fill their toolbox with strategies they can use each day.

Essentially, the post urges us to be mindful of the child’s thought process, emotions, and coping strategies this time of year.

Holiday Mindfulness

Below, you’ll find a printable Deep breathing Christmas tree printable that kids can use to support regulation needs.

Print off the sheet and trace along the arrows as the user breathes deeply in and out. This calm and centering visual tracking paired with deep breathing can help the user to focus with mindful breathing.

Mindful breathing is helpful in calming heart rate, easing anxious thoughts, and helping the user to focus on one thought rather than the many thoughts that may be running through their head.

You can even pair the visual Christmas mindfulness breathing tool with visualizations.

  • Ask the user to visualize a calm space with a lit Christmas tree in a dimly lit room.
  • Ask the user to visualize a calm space rather than the hustle and bustle that may be happening around them.
  • Invite the user to imagine deeply breathing in the scent of a Christmas tree and breathing out the same scent as they empty their lungs.
  • Invite the user to picture the worry and anxiety slowly releasing from their body as they move down the slopes of the Christmas tree.
  • Pair the deep breathing with thoughts of things that remind you of peace and love (for example) for with each breath.
  • For each layer of the tree, kids can concentrate on one thing, person, or aspect of the holidays that they are grateful for. Thinking about whatever it is that you are grateful for is a simple way to pair the benefits of slow deep breaths with intentional thoughts.

Then, show the user how to carry over this Christmas mindfulness strategy using a real Christmas tree.

  1. After using the printable Christmas tree deep breathing exercise, they can look at a real Christmas tree and trace the lines of the tree’s sides with their eyes as they breathe in and breathe out.
  2. Ask them to trace an imaginary Christmas tree, or triangle shape on the palm of their hand using the pointer finger of their other hand.

This becomes a Christmas mindfulness tool that they can use any where and any time even without the printable exercise.

Christmas mindfulness activity

Christmas COping Tools

This holiday season, I wanted to fill your toolbox with the tools your little one (or client/student) needs to thrive.

These are the strategies and tips we can use to slow down, take a deep breath, and recognize the underlying issues going on behind behaviors, meltdowns, and frustrations.

Because when you have the tools in place, you have a blueprint for success in the child.

Here are some holiday tools that can help both YOU and a CHILD struggling with all that this time of year brings:

Christmas Mindfulness

This is a coloring page. Use it as a handout or home program. Kids can color it in and work on fine motor skills, too!

Use the Christmas mindfulness handout with kids as a group or individually. You can set this up in several ways. Ask them fist to list out some things they are grateful for. Then, quietly say an item with each breath break.

As a mindfulness group activity, use the Christmas tree graphic and explain that they will be pairing deep breathing with a focus on love or peace. Come up with a list of things the group loves about the holidays. As you work through he deep breathing exercise, the children in the group can focus on things that brings them peace personally.

Or, you could invite the child to think in their head about some things that remind them of the holidays and then with each breath in, they intentionally concentrate on that thing/person/idea.

More Christmas Mindfulness Strategies

Here are more coping tools for kids that focus on addressing underlying needs so that kids can function. Use these strategies as part of a sensory diet or within the day.

The thing about mindfulness is that the tools that support needs will differ for every individual. During the holiday season, there are ways to support mindful needs with the holidays in mind:

Free printable Christmas Mindfulness Printable

Want to grab our Christmas tree mindfulness deep breathing exercise? Enter your email address into the form below. This printable is also available inside The OT Toolbox Member’s Club. Members can log in and head over to our Mindfulness Toolbox where we have this and other Christmas mindfulness printable exercises.

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    Wishing you a thriving, stress-free, and functional holiday season for you and those kiddos you serve!

    Understanding Sensory Dysregulation

    Sensory dysregulation

    A term you may have heard when it comes to sensory processing is sensory dysregulation. What does this mean? Are there clues for dysregulation? What are specific sensory strategies for regulation to support a dysregulated sensory system? We’ll cover all of this in this post.

    Sensory dysregulation

    Sensory Dysregulation

    Remember your last temper tantrum? Do you remember what it felt like to be suddenly so sad, mad, and completely out of control? Most of us probably had our last true temper tantrum more recently than we care to admit.

    A majority of those emotional outbursts were probably exacerbated due to a number of reasons; lack of sleep, poor diet, undesirable environment, discomfort, or pain. Deciphering the difference between a tantrum and sensory meltdown is a must.

    One ongoing debate in the pediatric therapy world is discussing what behaviors are due to sensory-related reactions, and what behaviors are due to something else. How many toddlers (or teenagers!) temper tantrums may actually be related to their sensory experience? If it really is sensory-based, then what are the solutions?

    The OT Toolbox is here to do our best to answer your sensory-related questions. A great first step in determining whether unwanted behaviors are based on sensory experiences, is to learn about what sensory dysregulation is. To get started, here is an article about sensory processing red flags.

    what is sensory dysregulation

    WHAT IS SENSORY DYSREGULATION?

    Sensory dysregulation refers to a mind or body state which occurs when the body is out of balance due to experiences in the sensory environment. Think about how sounds, textures, exercise, movement, smells, light, and other input can affect your mood. Sensory dysregulation is the result of either too much or too little stimulation for best functioning or self-regulation.

    It’s more than sensory touch and the input we receive through our skin. It’s the inability to regulate sensory input from ALL the sensory systems.

    A key component outcome of sensory dysregulation is self-regulation. There are many ways to define self-regulation, but generally, it is one’s ability to remain at an acceptable level of emotion, energy, behavior, and attention – given the demands of their environment.

     In order to achieve self-regulation, one must also have good sensory regulation. 

    Sensory dysregulation is something that anyone can experience, and most people probably have experienced a level of sensory dysregulation to some degree.

    Everyone has sensory preferences, like how loud they listen to music, or if they enjoy lots of hugs. If your preference is to have less, your systems would become out of balance with the music too loud or people getting too touchy.

    Each of us has our own limits given any situation – but once you are in tune with your body’s needs, you know when it has become too much. When the system is unbalanced, maladaptive behaviors (tantrums) occur, if no coping strategies are implemented. We covered this individualized preferences and nuances of neurodiversity in greater detail in our post on Sensory Diets for Adults.

    People with sensory processing disorder, which is an issue on a larger scale that affects a much smaller portion of the population, feel dysregulated more often and have far less ability to self-regulate. While sensory processing disorders can exist in isolation, they may be most prevalent in those with Autism or ADHD

    Check out our resources at the end of this article for great coping tools! 

    WHAT DOES DYSREGULATION LOOK LIKE?

    Sensory dysregulation, much like emotional dysregulation, feels uncontrollable. Something is “wrong” and a person may not know what is causing them to feel “off”, or how to solve the problem. Sensory dysregulation may look and feel similar to emotional or behavioral dysregulation, that can cause temper tantrums.

    The main difference is that sensory experiences are the root cause of the behavioral responses – not social disagreements or the like. It is complicated to tease out whether the issue is behavior or sensory. Look first at the triggers.

    A simpler way to understand of sensory dysregulation, is by breaking it down into two categories: over-responsiveness or under-responsiveness to the environmental stimuli. 

    • Over-responsiveness may look like: sensory avoidant behaviors such as excessive covering of the ears, hiding, avoiding touch, or extreme picky eating. The body may be responding too much to the incoming information. One reaction is to avoided it to, remain at baseline. 
    • Under-responsiveness may look like: sensory seeking behaviors such as excessive or repetitive body movements, touching everything, making sounds, or licking/chewing on non-food items. The body may be responding too little to typical input, to the point that the seeker looks for more of it to remain at baseline. 

    It is important to begin to recognize sensory over-and-under responsiveness and the role it plays in sensory regulation. Understanding what kind of behaviors a child has, will allow you to choose the right remedy. 

    • Over-responsive → Sensory Avoider → Need for less
    • Solution – calming activities, breathing exercises, variety of activities to slowly increase comfort level 
    • Under-responsive → Sensory Seeker → Need for more 
    • Solution: heavy work, brain breaks, fidget tools, variety of sensory experiences

    Resources from the OT Toolbox for Deep Breathing, Self-Regulation activities, Emotional Learning and Regulation, and the Sensory Lifestyle Handbook are a perfect starting point. 

    SENSORY DYSREGULATION IS NOT: 

    Sensory dysregulation is NOT the same as behavioral or emotional dysregulation, which may look like:

    Not sensory dysregulation:

    • Crying at the store after they were told “no”
    • Pushing their brother after he took their toy
    • Eating all foods but never what the family is eating 
    • Dumping/throwing toys after being told it’s time to clean up 
    • Covering their ears during a fire alarm
    • Screaming after a sibling teased them

    You may be thinking, wait a minute…some of those actions are sensory-based behaviors! 

    You are correct! However, just because something is related to the sensory experience, does not always mean that sensory dysregulation is occurring. 

    As an example; the sound of a fire alarm is loud auditory input, however, covering your ears during a loud sound is a normal response. If there is more of a reaction than that, for instance, if a child is inconsolable or unable to move on after the fire alarm, that may be considered sensory dysregulation.  

    Sensory Dysregulation Symptoms

    When symptoms of sensory dysregulation is in question, you should be asking:

    • What does the environment look like? Feel like? 
    • What is the child communicating with their actions? 
    • When and where does this behavior typically occur? In what similar situations does it not occur? 

    Some behaviors, like pushing, can be tricky to determine if it is sensory or behavior; Look at the trigger. The proprioceptive system can be dysregulated. Is the child pushing for sensory reasons? 

    • Bumping into things during play, crashing often, seemingly unaware of their body? Then they may have some sensory dysregulation going on that is increasing their need for input.  Pushing people who get too close, hugging too hard, or bumping into people, may also be signs of sensory dysregulation.
    • If a child pushes a friend after they did something mean, that is just poor social skills. 

    HOW CAN YOU support Sensory Dysregulation?

    If a child’s sensory system is dysregulated, there is good news: there are many ways to help! There is a catch though – there is no “one size fits all”. Trial and error is the name of the game with sensory interventions.

    Once you and your child find out what works for them and their changing environments, they will have a deeper understanding of themselves, and display improved behaviors in no time! 

    Check out these resources for sensory integration, calming exercises, self-regulation activities, and more! 

    Tactile Sensory Input:

    Heavy Work/ Propceptive Sensory Input:

    Vestibular Sensory Input:

    Combined Sensory Input:

    Deep Breathing Activities:

    Mindfulness:

    If you have tried everything, and are feeling a bit lost, you are not alone! Sensory dysregulation is tricky. It should be considered alongside many other aspects of why a child reacts a certain way. In addition to behavior, emotions, and self-regulation; history, habits, trauma, and mental status can have a powerful influence on actions, too. 

    Keep trying – some things may feel like a roadblocks but there are specific action strategies you can use!

    The Sensory Lifestyle Handbook walks you through sensory processing information, each step of creating a meaningful and motivating sensory diet, that is guided by the individual’s personal interests and preferences.

    The Sensory Lifestyle Handbook is not just about creating a sensory diet to meet sensory processing needs. This handbook is your key to creating an active and thriving lifestyle based on a deep understanding of sensory processing.

    Sydney Thorson, OTR/L, is a new occupational therapist working in school-based therapy. Her
    background is in Human Development and Family Studies, and she is passionate about
    providing individualized and meaningful treatment for each child and their family. Sydney is also
    a children’s author and illustrator and is always working on new and exciting projects.

    Sensory Diets for Adults

    Do adults need a sensory diet? Yes!  A Sensory Diet for Adults is just as beneficial as it is for children. Exactly what is a sensory diet? A sensory diet supports the sensory needs of any individual, providing them with a set of sensory strategies used to assist with the regulation of activity levels, attention, and adaptive responses. Looking at this list, adults definitely NEED the ability to self-regulate, organize their sensory systems, and support their sensory and emotional needs. So how can we go about this in the midst of work, parenting, and everything the day brings?

    sensory diets for adults

    How do you create a sensory diet for adults?

    The overall goals of a sensory diet are to meet the sensory needs of an individual by preventing sensory overload, supporting self-regulation, and helping to have an organized response to sensory stimuli. Sensory diets can also help an individual recover from sensory overload, if the preventive threshold has been crossed.

    In order to create the most effective sensory diet, it is important to consider ALL of the senses, which includes proprioception, vestibular, tactile, visual, auditory, gustatory, olfactory, and interoception (more about these later in this post).

    Creating a sensory diet for adults requires consideration of the lifestyle of an adult. The steps include; analysis and identification, strategizing, applying strategies, and monitoring effectiveness, to ensure individual needs are being met. 

    Even for adults, completing a sensory checklist, questionnaire, or survey is important. It will insure all sensory areas are identified, and all interests and preferences are considered when working on the development of a sensory diet for adults.

    Use a sensory journal to track sensory processing

    Another tool to assist in creating a sensory diet for adults, is keeping a sensory diary to help identify personal needs triggers, and dislikes.

    A sensory diary, or a sensory journal, is much like a food journal might be used to figure out food triggers that impact headaches or skin issues.

    Just like a journal to identify what food stimulated a physical change in the body, a sensory journal can be a helpful tool to identify sensory predictions of regulation, organization status, calmness, or ability to participate in every day activities.

    For example, if you are a school field trip chaperone for your kindergartener’s fieldtrip to the musical instrument factory, you might be on heavy overload on auditory input in the way of loud noises, screeching children, a bumpy bus ride. This can put you into a state of headaches, difficulty focusing, disorganized thoughts, emotional state of dysregulation, and overall inability to function for the rest of the day.

    When you look back at your sensory journal, you can see that all of the auditory, vestibular input was very chaotic, abrupt, and unexpected. When you see in your sensory journal that you had a migraine and couldn’t function for the rest of the day and the next day, then it makes sense.

    Scheduling sensory diets for adults

    Knowing these, will aid in the development of an individualized and successful sensory diet. 

    The scheduling of sensory diet activities is an important part of the sensory diet design when attempting to be proactive versus reactive. Scheduling the use of sensory strategies throughout the day will help keep the senses regulated in order to avoid sensory overload.

    At times, this threshold gets crossed, sensory overload ensues, and the reactive stage happens. As an adult, this is bound to happen. The good news is, many preventive strategies can be utilized in the reactive stage as well. 

    If you are seeking a comprehensive resource that can help guide your pursuit of sensory diet creation for success, check out the Sensory Lifestyle Handbook from The OT Toolbox. It will provide you with a strategy guide to create sensory diets for adults as well as children, and incorporate these choices into a lifestyle of sensory success!

    Adult sensory diet strategies You’re probably already doing

    Adults often use sensory strategies to support their needs without even realizing they are doing so. The difference between adults and children is, adults tend to use appropriate strategies. They are not likely to be jumping on the furniture, screaming in a meeting, or licking the furniture.

    Think about the adult who:

    • clicks a pen top frequently while working in the office
    • shakes their foot excessively while seated in the church pew
    • twirls their hair while listening or concentrating
    • snuggles under a heavy blanket when getting home
    • rocks back and forth while seated
    • has to have the TV or radio on in the background
    • chews gum all the time
    • exercises daily without fail

    The OT Toolbox provides information regarding Adults with Sensory Processing Disorder if you want to further explore information on this topic. 

    effective sensory diet strategies for adults

    Sensory diets for adults are similar to ones created for children. They have the same basic design, but some of the strategies are more adult-like in form, and the environment in which they are utilized differs. 

    Recognizing the triggers and stressors that cause sensory dysregulation, will help understand how and when to implement activities, before the point of stress. There are several different sensory products available for adults, as highlighted in this post on the OT Toolbox, that can help with regulation.

    There areas proactive strategies available that can help also.

    sensory activities for adults

    These are activities that can easily be done within an adult setting, to meet targeted sensory needs. There are strategies for each of the senses, as this is key to a well rounded sensory diet.

    Vestibular sensory activities for adults

    Vestibular strategies involve movement for regulation. As the head changes positions, and the body moves, input is regulated in the inner ear. Vestibular input is the building block of all of the other systems.

    Check out the vestibular activities we have here on the site. While these are movement-based play activities for kids, you can see how the different motions impact a state of calmness or alertness.

    These vestibular sensory activities for adults work in the same way:

    • yoga
    • slow rocking in a chair
    • spinning in an office chair
    • sitting on a therapy ball
    • standing at a desk
    • windmill arm exercises
    • stretch breaks
    • brisk walks
    • dancing 

    Proprioception Sensory Activities for Adults

    Proprioceptive strategies involve deep pressure, or heavy work for regulation, as the muscles, tendons, and joints are activated with increased intensity. Deep pressure often has a calming or organizing effect.

    Here on the site we have many proprioception activities for kids, but the main concept is the same. Offering heavy work through the joints offers calming regulatory input.

    Some proprioceptive sensory tools for adults include:

    • push-ups in any form – floor, chair, wall, or desk
    • yoga poses 
    • mindfulness apps
    • Using some of the same breathing exercises that we use with kids
    • squeezing arms and legs
    • weighted lap pad or weighted blanket
    • heavy work- for adults this might be mowing the lawn, gardening, running, etc.
    • self-hugging or massage
    • resistance band exercises
    • therapy putty exercises

    Tactile Sensory Strategies for Adults

    Tactile strategies involve sensory touch stimulation for self-regulation, but it also involves tactile defensiveness too. While some adults crave this input, others respond negatively to touch. For this reason, a personalized sensory diet for adults is important.

    Some tactile strategies for adults include:

    • brushing protocol (trained by qualified individual), bean bag tapping up and down the extremities
    • calm strips, sequin items, textured clothing, or some other form of texture
    • use of a stress ball
    • Fidget toys…go ahead and pick one up. You’ll see why the kids love them!
    • applying lotion to arms and legs
    • small massager to hands, arms, and legs
    • fidget tools or DIY fidget toys, such as squeeze balls, pop its, clickety gadgets, etc. Amazon (affiliate link:) has an entire fidget toy category for adults!
    • seeking the amount of personal space needed when near others. More or less may be needed depending on the needs of the individual

    Olfactory sensory strategies for adults

    Olfactory strategies involve using the sense of smell or input to the nose to either provide calm or alertness for self-regulation. Some adults have a scent sensitivity that is related to candles, certain oils (even cooking oils), fabric softeners, or allergens. An air freshener allergy is especially common when candles, room freshener sprays, or plug in scents are supposed to be calming and soothing, they are actually disorganizing for your sensory system.

    Again, each person has their own individual needs and preferences, so a customized diet is helpful. Read about the olfactory sense here.

    Consider essential oils and lotions with the following scents:

    • lavender, vanilla, orange, and chamomile to reduce tension or stress and/or promote relaxation
    • citrus, peppermint, cinnamon, and lemon to promote increased alertness and/or concentration
    • coffee beans for a neutral scent to balance other smells
    • try deep breathing strategies (inhale gently and deeply through the nose and exhale gently and slowly through the nose, repeat as often as needed)

    Visual Strategies for adults

    Visual strategies involve visual input for self-regulation.

    • changing lighting: a lamp light for reducing visual input vs. overhead fluorescent light for increased visual stimulation
    • dimmer switch for overhead lighting, to reduce or increase light 
    • reduce or eliminate visual clutter in the setting in all planes, for increased calm
    • paint calming colors on walls for such as blue or neutral colors, and for increased alertness, think orange or red
    • use patterned rugs or curtains for alertness, or more neutral and solid colors for calming
    • work in an open space with views of action within the space for alertness, or go for a partition or desk divider to eliminate visual distractions, for a more calm and focused setting
    • take eye rest breaks when exposed to excessive amounts of computer light
    • consider a computer glare screen, blue blocking glasses, or colored screen filters to block computer lighting, and decrease visual input

    Auditory sensory ideas for adults

    Auditory strategies can reduce or eliminate noise for improved self-egulation in adults. Alternatively, they can add or increase the noise for a sensory seeker.

    • music and the type of music, can be alerting or calming
    • white noise can help provide a constant sound, making it predictable, or be bothersome to more sensitive people
    • earbuds, or ear plugs, can help block out some noise
    • noise-canceling headphones help block out as much noise as possible
    • running water from a fountain or nature sounds can feel calming
    • running fan or another humming-type device
    • foam earplugs to muffle sound without completely blocking it out

    Gustatory Strategies for adult self-regulation

    Gustatory strategies can help to alert or calm individuals, simply by the sensory input provided either through the texture or flavor of the food, or the mouth movement needed to consume it. When considering foods, try to go for healthy options when possible.

    To increase alertness, try crunchy, salty, sweet, sour, spicy, hard to chew, or cold foods and/or drinks. To calm and organize, consider smooth, warm, and softly flavored foods, and/or drinks, as these tend to be more soothing.

    Likewise, different foods and drinks can be calming. Sucking a thick drink through a straw can serve to provide proprioceptive input, being calming or alerting. Iced fluids are more alerting. Warm or hot liquids are generally more calming.

    Consider these for increasing levels of alertness:

    • Crunchy: apple slices, carrot sticks, pretzels, nuts, tortilla chips, graham crackers, or rice cakes
    • Sour: lemon flavor, cranberries, sour candy, green apples, lemonade, and tart cherries
    • Sweet: yogurt, juices, frozen fruit juice pops, smoothies, grapes, oranges, and strawberries
    • Spicy: chips and salsa, cinnamon flavor, peppers, and pretzels with spicy mustard
    • Salty: baked potato chips, salty nuts, crackers, popcorn, and pickles
    • Chewy: bubble gum, gummy bears, dried fruit, jerky, fruit leather, bagels, or granola bars
    • Sucking: sucking a smoothie through a straw or sucking another warmer liquid through a water bottle nozzle
    • Cold: Iced water, ice cream, crushed ice, frozen berries, or frozen sherbet

    Consider these for increasing calm:

    • Soft and/or softly flavored: cottage cheese, peanut butter, avocado, pudding, oatmeal, freshly baked cookies, or applesauce
    • Warm: Hot tea, warm cocoa, or soup

    Interoception strategies for an adult sensory diet

    Interoception strategies involve understanding and feeling what is going on inside of the body.  Understanding how the body feels and how it reacts to certain sensory strategies can help to identify what is alerting and calming to the individual. Consider:

    • Deep breathing
    • Mindfulness activities
    • Yoga 
    • Temperature control
    • Heavy work and alerting activities
    • Understanding of feelings and emotions
    Note: Many of the sensory strategies listed here can be scheduled throughout the adult day, or within the moment of need. If seeking further sensory strategies that might help in the pursuit of sensory diet tools, take a look at the following sensory diet examples

    Sensory Diet Example for Adults

    When it comes to creating a sensory diet for the adult with sensory needs, there are aspects of sensory processing to be considered, in order to integrate sensory diet activities into the day to day functional activities. 

    How can you incorporate sensory input into everyday tasks?

    Essentially, it is important to add movement and sensory options during activities like tedious tasks, waiting periods, or times when self-regulation is essential to the task at hand. Adding the sensory diet strategies correctly into tasks supports needs. The Sensory Lifestyle Handbook is a great resource to get your started. Can you get up and walk around while on the phone making an appointment? Can you take a minute to stretch and breathe deeply during traffic?

    Here are examples of sensory diet for adults

    • Wake up, stretch at the side of the bed.
    • Start the day: yoga, exercise, cool drink of water with lemon
    • Next: bathroom/hot shower, vigorous towel to dry off, compression clothing
    • Breakfast: steamy coffee, warm milk, soothing foods
    • Transport to work or school: walk or ride to day’s events while listening to calming or alerting music, reading, journaling, listening to podcasts, etc.
    • Movement breaks during the day: use fidgets, get up and move throughout the day, eat a snack, chew gum, schedule standing breaks during the day, use a standing desk, consistent water drinking, listen to alerting music while working, deep breathing, mindfulness apps, silence notifications, use ear pods while working, etc.
    • Afternoon/Evening: go for a walk, read a book, drink tea, grocery shop or complete other tasks while listening to music, call a friend or loved one, listen to audiobooks, calm down yoga, or stretching at night
    • Prepare for next day: write out schedule or to-do lists, doodle, journal, mindfulness strategies, read, watch movies or television (electronics are visually alerting and should be limited close to bedtime)
    • Sleep: Use heavy blanket or weighted blanket, heavy pillows, cool room with fan, noise machine, ear plugs, deep breathing before bed, gratitude journal, camomile tea before bed

    An adult sensory diet is heavily dependent on the lifestyle of the individual, sensory preferences, day to day tasks, and personal preferences. Using these suggestions, a sensory diet can be integrated right into the tasks that need to be accomplished each day.

    The Takeaway to Creating adult sensory diets

    An adult sensory diet is all about discovering what works for an individual, as each person’s needs are unique, and may change over time. It is important the adult get to know themselves and what they need, before making a plan (the sensory diet) to feed their body’s needs, making it simple nutrition for the brain and the body.

    Regina Allen

    Regina Parsons-Allen is a school-based certified occupational therapy assistant. She has a pediatrics practice area of emphasis from the NBCOT. She graduated from the OTA program at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute in Hudson, North Carolina with an A.A.S degree in occupational therapy assistant. She has been practicing occupational therapy in the same school district for 20 years. She loves her children, husband, OT, working with children and teaching Sunday school. She is passionate about engaging, empowering, and enabling children to reach their maximum potential in ALL of their occupations as well assuring them that God loves them!

    Sensory Paths and Sensory Stations

    sensory paths and sensory stations

    A sensory walk, sensory station, and sensory path…what are these things and how do they support sensory processing needs? Here, we’re covering it all when it comes to using sensory paths or walks as a tool to support sensory needs. You’ll love the printable sensory station tools to add to your DIY sensory path!

    sensory paths and sensory stations- what is the difference

    What are Sensory Paths?

    Let’s start with covering these terms.

    A sensory path is a defined path, or walkway that directs users to complete a variety of sensory-motor tasks. The activities that make up a sensory path are typically gross motor tasks that incorporate proprioceptive input, vestibular input, and visual input. These sensory systems are powerful regulating tools to organize and this is why motor movements in a sensory path engage these systems.

    A sensory path is typically a literal pathway on the ground; it may be painted onto a sidewalk or schoolyard. It may be stickers or images stuck to a floor or hallway in a school.

    I know you’ve seen, or read about the (Amazon affiliate link) sensory pathways displayed on walls and floors of the school building. These are available commercially, or sensory paths can be made with paint and stickers.

    Sensory paths can support self-regulation needs during transitions or scheduled sensory diets within a day.

    What is a sensory walk?

    A sensory walk is another term for a sensory path, however, some sensory walks can be nature-based, in the outdoors. Including flowers, grass, benches, and sounds of nature, a sensory walk can be very calming and regulating.

    Other sensory walks are not nature-based. They are manufactured and can be also called sensory paths. Not only are the commercial versions of sensory paths expensive, but they are also highly colorful, and have multiple visual elements. These designs make for high visual noise (or visual clutter), making them ineffective for some children.

    Some pathways can be highly dysregulating, as children attempt to decipher the visual clutter, and act on the path elements.

    sensory stations and sensory station ideas for kids

    What are sensory stations?

    Sensory stations are an area set up with the intention of engaging children in exercises that help to stimulate and regulate their senses, and facilitate transitions within the day. When children need a brain break, or if you need some fun ideas to meet sensory strategy goals, these are the perfect tool.

    Sensory motor stations provide a visual, coupled with a written directive, that can be followed by most anyone who needs to build their sensory strategy bank. 

    Sensory stations can be part of a calm down corner or they can be posted in a hallway as a transition tool. These can be a specific area or “station” that allows users to pause and participate in self-regulation strategies: heavy work, vestibular movement, or deep breathing exercises, or mindfulness techniques.

    Below, we have free printable sensory stations that you can use in a sensory path, sensory walk, or sensory corner. Are you interested in some freebies that are effective and fun? You’re in the right place visiting this post. It‘s full of Sensory Stations that you can print and post to make a fresh approach to self-regulation, use in creating a sensory path of your own. 

    If you work with children who need less stimulation, and more simplified visual directions, these FREE sensory stations are a must. They are simple, providing both visual and written directives. Download the PDF and go.

    sensory stations in the school setting

    In the school setting, sensory station printables can be used for an entire classroom, a small group, or with individual children. A sensory path is often sought out for use in the school setting, but once that sensory walkway is set on the asphalt, hallway linoleum, or in a certain space, it’s there for good!

    Using a sensory station that can be removed and replaced with different themes is nice in the school setting because they can be used over and over again in different locations.

    The nice thing about using a sensory station over a sensory path is that they can be posted throughout the school setting:

    • Classrooms
    • Therapy room
    • Gymnasium
    • School hallways
    • Cafeteria
    • Library
    • Social worker’s office
    • Guidance counselor’s office
    • ESL classroom
    • Or in different locations, to help children rotate through the stations throughout the day or as a brain break.

    They offer the movement breaks students need, when and where they need them, to gain the sensory benefits they crave.

    Print the sensory walk stations and provide a simple training to your school staff, to make these activities available for any child who needs the support. 

    sensory stations in a clinic

    In a private clinic, sensory walk stations can be used in a pathway to different areas of the building, or posted in different locations where specific needs are being addressed.

    In our private clinic, we have them posted on the wall down the hallway that leads to the therapy gym. These visuals serve as a great transitional tool, that helps children get ready for a different therapeutic environment.

    Sensory walks can be provided as a home program, so they can be used as part of a child’s sensory diet. Some parents can’t afford sensory equipment like a swing or trampoline, so whenever possible, offer strategies they can afford.

    Parents will be grateful for structured home exercises that are fun and motivating for their child.

    Teletherapy sensory stations

    Since the pandemic, therapists are often providing services through teletherapy occupational therapy. Sensory walk stations can be used as a warm-up, or sensory input activity for kiddos who need that support while having an on-line session.

    They can easily be printed and displayed to the child over the computer, or do a screen share using the resource PDF. These printables are versatile. Changing them for different seasons or holidays, keeps them new and motivating. 

    what kind of sensory station ideas are available?

    What kind of sensory station ideas can you find on the OT Toolbox? Seasonal and holiday-themed stations are available, with being added.

    Grab these sensory path printables below, print, laminate, or slide them into a sheet protector, and hang them up today! 

    If you are a regular visitor to the OT Toolbox, you would benefit from our members club. Never miss a post, product, or freebie! Here are all the details:

    Want to add this resource to your therapy toolbox so you can help kids thrive? Enter your email into the form below to access this printable tool.

    This resource is just one of the many tools available in The OT Toolbox Member’s Club. Each month, members get instant access to downloadable activities, handouts, worksheets, and printable tools to support development. Members can log into their dashboard and access all of our free downloads in one place. Plus, you’ll find exclusive materials and premium level materials.

    Level 1 members gain instant access to all of the downloads available on the site, without enter your email each time PLUS exclusive new resources each month.

    Level 2 members get access to all of our downloads, exclusive new resources each month, PLUS additional, premium content each month: therapy kits, screening tools, games, therapy packets, and much more. AND, level 2 members get ad-free content across the entire OT Toolbox website.

    Join the Member’s Club today!

    Let’s take a look at what exactly you will find on the site today:

    Spring Sensory Walk Stations:

    • Frog hop walk
    • Spring flowers figure 8 deep breathing trace 
    • Flower wall push-ups
    • Butterfly wings windmills
    • Bumblebee trace and breathe 

    Summer Sensory Walk Stations:

    • Dolphin leap
    • Bumblebees figure 8 deep breathing trace
    • Beach ball press wall push-ups
    • Crab squat summer sand squats
    • Hermit crab shell trace and breathe

    Fall Sensory Walk Stations:  

    • Squirrel leaps
    • Fall leaves figure 8 deep breathing trace
    • Leaves wall push-ups
    • Fall jumping jacks
    • Acorn trace and breathe

    Winter Sensory Walk Stations:  

    • Penguin waddle
    • Frosty wind and snow figure 8 deep breathing trace
    • Snowball hands wall push-ups
    • Ice skater one leg standing balance
    • Snowflake trace and breathe

    Christmas Sensory Walk Stations:

    • Reindeer leap
    • Christmas lights figure 8 deep breathing trace
    • Santa sleigh push wall push-ups
    • Jingle bell jumping jacks
    • Christmas tree trace and breathe

    If you are new to sensory processing difficulties, the Sensory Lifestyle Handbook is a great place to start.

    The Sensory Lifestyle Handbook walks you through sensory processing information, each step of creating a meaningful and motivating sensory diet, that is guided by the individual’s personal interests and preferences.

    The Sensory Lifestyle Handbook is not just about creating a sensory diet to meet sensory processing needs. This handbook is your key to creating an active and thriving lifestyle based on a deep understanding of sensory processing.

    One last thing to point out about these sensory walk stations, is that they not only provide the sensory input a child may need, but they also address core strength, motor planning, crossing midline, eye-hand coordination, and overall, fine and gross motor skills.

    Regina Allen

    Regina Parsons-Allen is a school-based certified occupational therapy assistant. She has a pediatrics practice area of emphasis from the NBCOT. She graduated from the OTA program at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute in Hudson, North Carolina with an A.A.S degree in occupational therapy assistant. She has been practicing occupational therapy in the same school district for 20 years. She loves her children, husband, OT, working with children and teaching Sunday school. She is passionate about engaging, empowering, and enabling children to reach their maximum potential in ALL of their occupations as well assuring them that God loves them!

    Weighted Vests and Compression Garments

    research vs clinical experience on weighted blankets and compression garments.

    Weighted vests, weighted clothing, and compression garments are used to offer proprioceptive input to elicit a calm and focused response. They tend to be used as a sensory intervention for children with diagnoses like sensory processing disorder, autism (ASD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), with the purpose of calming the body for functional activities.

    Weighted vests are a hot topic in the therapy world, as they have been used in practice for decades. Sensory strategies are difficult to research, gather data, or prove their efficacy. Want to learn more about sensory processing disorder? Use this checklist to guide you! 

    What do weighted blankets do and research vs. clinical experience

    Weighted clothing Research review versus clinical observation

    This article will dive into the research versus clinical observation, on the use of weighted vests and compression clothing. Here at The OT Toolbox team, we’re lucky to have therapists with a variety of experiences, and years in the field. This blog post on weighted clothing, weighted blankets, and other weighted sensory tools explores both clinical experience and evidence for a combined viewpoint.

    We’re covering both here: what the research says about weighted clothing and what clinical experience and data says about these weighted tools.

    The first author, Sydney Thorson OTR/L is a school based therapist who bases her practice on research and evidence based practice. The second author, Victoria Wood OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 30 years of clinical experience, who bases her treatment on clinical observation, data collection, and real life experience.

    Research on weighted vests and compression clothing

    Research on weighted vests

    (Research review by Sydney Thorson OTR/L)

    Weighted vests have been used in clinical practice for many years, without strong research evidence they actually work. In my opinion, this is a big deal for our field, as we should not be implementing such tools without good reason. If you’ve ever had questions about best practice and research on weighted vests, compression clothing, and weighted compression vests, read on.

    A note about Research on Weighted Clothing, Weighted Vests and Compression Garments

    If you are looking to purchase a vest or implement it into therapy, there is not much data available online, or in popular pediatric therapy books. Some features of the vests may be noted in research articles. Important factors such as the amount of weight to be used, the length of time it should be donned, or the frequency of use is never suggested. Why? Because we simply do not have any data to support this yet.  

    Most importantly, occupational therapists are often providing treatment under the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, which mandates therapeutic and instructional strategies must be research-based whenever possible.

    How Do I Know Which Research to Trust?

    One of the most difficult parts of a literature review is understanding how likely it is that the study results are actually “true”, and therefore, clinically significant. In my review below, I have noted how strong the level of evidence, so that you can decide how best to use the information moving forward. 

    What does it mean to be clinically significant? 

    Statistical significance is what tells researchers if their chosen effect really happened or not. A researcher may determine that a weighted vest has a statistically significant effect based on their data from a research environment. In real-life practice, it may not have the same results.

    The clinical significance is just another way to say, “does this treatment actually work for my patients in their normal environment?” 

    All good literature reviews start a question that needs to be answered:Do weighted or compression vests improve regulation in children with disabilities? 

    In my opinion, the simple answer is…probably not. 

    Best Evidence for Weighted Vests

    A systematic review is generally the best way to learn about a research topic. Researchers thoughtfully and methodically take into account numerous studies, compiling the results into one article, for the reader to enjoy. 

    One of the more recent systematic reviews, titled, “Systematic Review on the Efficacy of Weight Vests and Blankets for People with ASD or ADHD” noted that earlier reviews found that these items did not have efficacy (Denny et al., 2018). Since then, data continues to show inconsistent effectiveness of weighted vests.

    This review included 18 studies, four of which were also systematic reviews. The efficacy of each study in this review was noted and used to offer the following results;

    Results (Denny et al., 2018)

    • In individuals with ASD or ADHD: 
      • Moderate evidence suggests that weighted items can increase attention and occupational performance. 
      • Mild evidence supports that weighted items can reduce maladaptive behaviors, like aggression, self-injurious behaviors, or off-task behaviors.
      • No evidence supports the use of weighted items to increase adaptive behaviors, like seated, on-task behavior. 
    • More rigorous studies are needed to determine if weighted items actually produce a clinically significant effect. 
    • Use weighted items cautiously to determine if they will provide positive outcomes. 

    Should Occupational Therapists Use Weighted Vests? 

    In my opinion, with the inconsistent and insufficient available evidence of an intervention that is broadly used, OTs should turn to the leaders for guidance. This would include the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). The American Journal of Occupation Therapy (AJOT) provided two systematic reviews on the topic of sensory interventions in 2020. 

    One review reported that weighted vests are not effective in increasing educational performance in children with ASD (Grajo, Candler & Sarafian, 2020). 

    The other systematic review from the AJOT went even further and stated that “weighted vests/items…received a red light designation…indicating that therapists should not use these approaches for children with sensory processing challenges” (Battin et al., 2020). 

    Best Evidence for Weighted Compression Vests 

    Compression vests are currently less likely to have specific data on their use, as they are often used a part of a treatment plan, either with weighted vests or other sensory items. Weighted vests are far more popularized in the research arena, but below you will find the best available evidence for compression vests. 

    A meta-analysis (including a systematic review) that complied recent data for deep pressure therapy items, including weighted and compression vests, squeeze machines, and brushing therapy, found that none were supported by evidence for any reason (Losinski, Sanders & Wiseman, 2017).  Many of the studies reported on were low-quality for a number of reasons, and it is unknown how this could contribute to the results. 

    Weighted Vests and Autism

    Occupational therapists often support individuals on the autism spectrum in the classroom, home, community, and clinic. OTs work closely in early intervention services with individuals diagnosed with autism. 

    While there are benefits for using weighted vests with individuals on the autism spectrum, in my opinion, it’s important to discern, through a research review, whether the specific needs of the individual are addressed.

    A weighted vest, weighted clothing, compression clothing, compression bed sheets, or weighted blanket are just some of the tools used to support individuals with autism. 

    The benefit suggested of a weighted device or compression material refers to the regulation of the central nervous system, and the physical input through the proprioceptive system. This input can impact sleep, temperature regulation, to organize and calm the nervous system. It’s easy to see the connection between the nervous system, regulation of the individual, and functional performance of tasks. 

    Another great resource is the use of sensory clothing, or clothing that supports sensory needs, no matter the diagnoses or preference. In recent years, there are more options out there as well as greater availability to accessing sensory-friendly garments.

    Should Occupational Therapists Use Compression Vests? 

    Unsurprisingly, there is limited guidance from our OT leaders at AOTA and AJOT that is specific to compression vests. This means that therapists can wait for guidance to come out, conduct their own research to add to the mix, or follow their next best available guidance. My gut tells me to follow the guidelines from AJOT for weighted vests, noted above. 

    This data trend is not exclusive to vests – some recent data does not support implementing any single-system sensory intervention in the school environment. Single-system sensory interventions, like swings, vests, and brushing, are becoming increasingly unsupported by leaders in occupational therapy (Grajo et al, 2020; Novak, 2019; Bodison, 2018; Wong et al, 2014; Watling, 2015).

    This data does not make any statement towards other “sensory” experiences that are play-based, functional, or explorative in nature. 

    Research on the use of sensory-based interventions presented in the AJOT in 2018 suggested that many OTs “continued to use primarily clinical experiences and knowledge from their professional education programs rather than formal evaluations or scientific literature” (Carter & Glennon, 2018). The authors (and I) recommend a shift in our practice to utilize research evidence over personal experiences. 

    Clinical observation, data collection, real life experience on the benefit of weighted vests and compression tools

    (Clinical experience by Victoria Wood, OTR/L)

    The other side of the coin is a conflicting opinion, but one that therapists who have seen the benefits of weighted clothing and compression garments at work.

    How does a weighted blanket work?

    How a weighted vest works

    Sensory seekers need to have their sensory “cup” filled in order to feel satiated. Have you ever wondered why a child with hyperactivity would be prescribed a stimulant? 

    The simple answer is; they will continue to seek input until their cup is full. 

    The stimulant, such as Ritalin, fills their cup faster than other sensory input. Once the cup is full, the person seeking input feels satiated, and can focus on work, functional tasks, or social skills. It is similar to needing to eat until you are full.

    In a recent article on relaxation breathing, we covered how the autonomic nervous system responds to stimulation that is perceived as dangerous, over-simulating, or anxiety inducing via the commonly referred to signs of “fight, flight, freeze. It is through our limbic system that this occurs.

    In response, heavy work activities support the calming or organization of this input. Other self-regulation activities such as proprioceptive input, visual input, and vestibular input can further support this sensory need. Just like the heavy work input of the proprioceptive system and vestibular system, this is organizing and regulating.

    We shared more resources and tools to support this natural process in a blog post on using the benefits of a sensory burrito blanket as a sensory tool to offer heavy work input through compression.

    A weighted vest, or compression garment, provides proprioceptive input similar to a deep hug. This deep pressure calms the central nervous system, thus calming, satiating, or organizing the body and brain.  

    What about research?

    • The reason there is not sufficient research and evidence on tools such as weighted/compression garments, vibration, therapeutic listening, sensory diets, etc. is the method by which it is collected. 
    • Sensory data is collected through observation, interview, trial and error.  
    • A person being interviewed about the behavior of their student/child may not paint a clear picture.  Oftentimes, caregivers either over dramatize, or deny behaviors and outcomes. 
    • Clinical observation may point to a reduction in maladaptive behaviors, or an improvement in attention while wearing a vest or using another sensory strategy, however, it is difficult to determine if the vest is making the difference versus sleep, diet, mood, exercise, weather, or 75 other variables.
    • It is difficult to trial a sensory strategy in a vacuum.  Other variables are always present.
    • Behavior is difficult to measure.

    Do sensory strategies such as a weighted vest work?

    • (In my opinion) weighted clothing works.

    In my 30 years of experience I have seen countless patients show remarkable results from sensory strategies, especially compression and weight. The change in behavior is often instantaneous.

    I have visibly seen a calm come over a child within minutes of donning a vest.

    Some children are able to suddenly sit for 20 minutes at a table doing work while wearing a vest, where previously they were able to sit for barely three minutes.

    Many patients I have worked with understand the value of their vest, and will begin to request it when needed. 

    • The placebo effect of weighted garments:

    The placebo effect is a beneficial health outcome resulting from a person’s anticipation that an intervention will help. How a health care provider interacts with a patient also may bring about a positive response that’s independent of any specific treatment.

    If patients a,b,c, and d have a great outcome while wearing their “superman” vest or “police bullet proof garment”, it matters not if this is a placebo, or actual physical change happening to their central nervous system.  If they feel better, have improved attention, and decreased maladaptive behaviors, the vest or strategy is working!

    Dr. John Diamond, while reporting about the placebo effect, states; “What I am proposing is that rather than dismissing a cure as being “just a placebo effect,” we should try to do the very opposite. We should try to make all cures a result of the placebo effect.

    If up to thirty-three percent of patients can improve with harmless distilled water, and only some sixty percent get the desired result with the pharmacologically active substance, we should be striving for all patients to be cured with a placebo. Then we would not have to administer a dangerous active substance.

    • Do no harm.

    Health professionals follow an oath to do no harm.  Under the correct supervision, weighted/compression vests do not harm a person.  In my opinion, why not take a chance on trialing a simple strategy such as a compression vest, if it does no harm? 

    It might be the key to success you have been looking for, and might prevent more intrusive treatment strategies.  Many times medical doctors prescribe simple medications in the hopes that symptoms will be alleviated, without actually having test results to confirm a diagnosis.

    To me, this is much more harmful than trying a strategy such as a vest, or noise canceling headphones. 

    • Trial and error with weighted clothing (or compression garments, weighted vests, etc.

    Because of the nature of sensory based treatment strategies, much of what is done is trial and error. 

    What works for one may not work for another. 

    One child may need a combination of ten strategies to find the organization they need.  The strategy used successfully for three months, may suddenly stop working. This is the exciting (and frustrating) element to treating sensory processing difficulties. 

    How to use compression garments and weighted blankets

    How to safely use a weighted or compression vest/garment

    The body responds well to an on/off wearing schedule. This is because the nervous system becomes satiated or “used to” the input after about 15-20 minutes.  Similar to wearing a watch or a necklace. At first you are acutely aware it is on your wrist. 

    After about 20 minutes you no longer notice it. 

    If you take the object off for a period of time, then don it again, the stimulus becomes new and recognized.  

    A few tips for weighted clothing:

    1. Wear the weighted clothing/use compression garment for 20 minutes.

    Wearing a weighted/compression garment for more than the allotted 20 minutes is not necessarily harmful, it just stops working as effectively. Under the right supervision, a vest can be worn for longer periods if it is not possible to complete this type of rigorous wearing schedule. Watch for signs of shut down, overheating, or excessive fatigue.

    2. Weighted vests or weighted blankets should be 5-10% of the body weight.

    The weight should typically be 5-10% of the body weight, higher for a weighted blanket, as the weight is distributed differently. Adjust as needed for maximum effectiveness.  Some people are more sensitive to input than others. 

    3. Collect data.

    Trial and error with data collection, observations, and a checklist, are helpful when trying any new sensory strategy.  Have caregivers fill out a form targeting certain behaviors, rather than “improved compliance”. What does that look like?  Sit for 20 minutes without fleeing. Reduction in self injurious behaviors from X to Y.  Recover from meltdown in 5 minutes versus 20.  The NAPA center has a nice overview of weighted vests and their benefits.

    Additionally, this resource offers a sensory checklist that can help with getting started on obtaining data and observations regarding sensory needs.

    We hope that this discussion encourages you to further explore the quality of your practice, treatment methods and strategies, and recommendations for families – how will you move your practice forward? 

    Victoria Wood

    Victoria Wood, OTR/L has been providing Occupational Therapy treatment in pediatrics for more than 25 years. She has practiced in hospital settings (inpatient, outpatient, NICU, PICU), school systems, and outpatient clinics in several states. She has treated hundreds of children with various sensory processing dysfunction in the areas of behavior, gross/fine motor skills, social skills and self-care. Ms. Wood has also been a featured speaker at seminars, webinars, and school staff development training. She is the author of Seeing your Home and Community with Sensory Eyes.

    AND

    Sydney Thorson, OTR/L, is a new occupational therapist working in school-based therapy. Her
    background is in Human Development and Family Studies, and she is passionate about
    providing individualized and meaningful treatment for each child and their family. Sydney is also
    a children’s author and illustrator and is always working on new and exciting projects.

    Sensory Processing Disorder Chart

    sensory processing disorder chart

    Did you know that sensory processing disorder can be broken down into several aspects of “sensory” based on considerations that you see in sensory challenges? Here, you’ll find a sensory chart covering these sensory processing attributes to better explain the vastness of SPD. You’ll also want to check out our resource containing a sensory processing disorder checklist as it covers sensory red flags that potentially indicate the terms you see below in this sensory chart.

    Printable sensory processing disorder chart for educating on complexities of sensory processing challenges.

    Sensory Processing Disorder Chart

    Let’s cover the sensory breakdown to better understand this complex concept and various attributes of sensory preferences and behaviors. These explanations and sensory information is found in greater detail in our resource, The Sensory Lifestyle Handbook.

    Sensory Processing Disorder as a global umbrella term that includes all forms of this disorder, which includes three primary areas (Sensory Modulation Disorder, Sensory Discrimination Disorder, and Sensory-Based Motor Disorder).

    Let’s look at each of these areas:

    Sensory discrimination disorders– 

    Sensory discrimination is defined as the ability to discriminate (or identify) sensory input, sensory differences, quantities, and qualities of sensory stimuli. When we discriminate sensory input, we use our sensory systems to taste, touch, hear, feel, smell, and perceive sensory information. This discrimination allows for safety and functional participation in everyday tasks. Sensory discrimination can mean smelling smoke from the stove vs. smoke from a backyard firepit, hearing an alarm sounding, tasting spoiled food, knowing when to go to the bathroom, knowing when to stop spinning on the swing, and so many other aspects of daily life!

    Children with sensory discrimination difficulty have problems recognizing or interpreting differences in stimuli. 

    • They will bump and crash into others or objects. 
    • They might eat until they are sick rather than stopping when full.
    • They may write with a heavy or overly light pencil pressure.
    • Individuals with sensory discrimination disorders frequently drop items
    • There might be poor balance
    • Others may be overly afraid of heights
    • You may see balance and coordination challenges.

    It can look like so many different things! Check out this resource on sensory red flags for more descriptions.

    There are so many aspects of daily life that are related to sensory discrimination!

    Sensory modulation disorder

    Sensory modulation disorder is defined as the challenge of interpreting sensory information, either overly responding, under-responding, or specifically seeking out sensory input.

    Sensory Modulation Disorder is further broken down into subtypes, or three categories:

    1. Sensory Over-Responsiveness
    2. Sensory Under-Responsiveness
    3. Sensory Seeking

    Sensory Over-Responsiveness– With one type of sensory modulation disorder, over-responsiveness, sensory input can be irritating, painful, or abrasive and the individual avoids that particular sensory input. The sensory systems are overly responsive in this way. You may see food or texture avoidance, issues with noisy environments, and distractions by light, sounds, textures, etc.

    Sensory Under-Responsiveness- The other end of the spectrum is a under-responsive sensory system. In this case, the individual may not realize or recognize sensory input. They may seek sensory input, but they can also be lethargic or fatigue easily. This is where you will see running into traffic, slow to react, or clumsiness.

    Sensory Seeking- Another type of sensory modulation issue is the seeking out of specific sensory input. Likewise, sensory input can be stimulating and pleasant. The individual will seek out sensory input that they prefer: rubbing a particular texture, jumping, crashing, etc. are some examples of sensory seeking.

    With each of these types, you will see preferences of certain sensory inputs and a withdrawal from other responses. They may become upset by noises and sounds and are easily distracted by stimuli. Each individual will be drastically different.

    These kids have problems regulating response to sensory input. 

    These subcategories are explained in further detail under the sensory systems section. 

    For children who struggle in this area, a sensory diet might help them to modulate sensation in the environment. Children experience a poor compatibility of sensory information and the tasks they need to accomplish.

    Sensory Based Motor Disorder

    Sensory Motor Disorder is another aspect of sensory processing, referring to the motor output as it relates to sensory information. Those with sensory motor disorder challenges have difficulty navigating their world.  Their bodies don’t do what their brains tell them to do. 

    Sensory Based Motor Disorder has two subcategories: Dyspraxia and Postural Disorder.

    1. Dyspraxia– Children with dyspraxia have difficulty planning, timing, organizing, sequencing, or executing unfamiliar actions.  These children may appear awkward and poorly coordinated. Dyspraxia describes developmentally acquired motor planning deficits and includes poor planning of movements.  
    2. Postural-Ocular disorder–  Children with postural-ocular disorder have trouble with controlling movements and posture.  They may have difficulty with coordination of functional vision. Joint instability seen in these children results in controlled motions.  These children may slouch in their seats and exhibit muscle weakness, low tone, or poor balance.  Kids with postural disorders have difficulty keeping up with their peers and may appear as lazy or clumsy.

    Sensory Processing Disorder Considerations

    Each of the areas described in the sensory processing disorder chart may have some or all of the considerations listed below. We cover these areas in greater detail in our book, The Sensory Lifestyle Handbook.

    Emotional regulation– Children with this difficulty have trouble maintaining an emotional state that matches the task or activity.  They may overrespond to emotional situations. Read more on emotional intelligence to determine typically developing emotional regulation skills vs. challenges in this area.

    Somatodyspraxia is a type of sensory-integrative based dyspraxia where there is evidence of poor processing of somatosensory information.  Essentially, somatodyspraxia is a combination of visual and proprioceptive input. The somatosensory system interprets information from the skin and around joints and carries that information to the central nervous system. 

    This includes tactile discrimination or sensory touch which includes heat or temperature awareness, vibration, pain registration, interoception, pressure, proprioception, and position of body in space.  All of this information leads to one’s ability to perceive temporal and spatial organization, develop body scheme and postural response, stabilize the head and body during movement, and interpret touch sensation and pain needed for movements and actions.

    Children with somatodyspraxia often exhibit poor tactile and proprioceptive processing, clumsiness, frequent tripping, falling, and bumping into objects; difficulty with fine motor and manipulation skills, and poor organization (Cermak, 1991).

    Treatment focuses on providing heavy work, deep pressure, and light-touch experiences. Verbal cuing and feedback may also be used (Koomar & Bundy, 1991). The sensory diet/sensory lifestyle and environmental modification ideas for decreased discrimination of tactile and proprioceptive information should be used in addition to the ideas specific to praxis issues.

    Impaired Bilateral Motor Coordination

    Children with impaired bilateral motor coordination often exhibit difficulty with bilateral activities, or tasks that require the two sides of the body to work together in a coordinated manner.

    This includes clapping, hopping, skipping, and jumping jacks.

    Individuals with impaired or delayed motor coordination may have some right–left confusion, avoid midline crossing, and have difficulty developing a hand preference.  Additionally, they appear to have vestibular and proprioceptive difficulties

    Treatment generally focuses on providing vestibular and proprioceptive experiences and graded bilateral activities.  Treatment may start with simple crossing midline, rotation, and symmetrical activities and work toward asymmetrical activities and more complex coordination skills (Koomar & Bundy, 1991).

    The sensory diet/sensory lifestyle and environmental modification ideas for decreased discrimination of vestibular and proprioceptive information that address vestibular input should be used in addition to the ideas specific to bilateral motor coordination.

    Tactile Defensiveness

    Children with tactile defensiveness often exhibit an aversive response to a variety of tactile experiences, such as craft materials, food, clothing, bathing, or touch. They will often avoid a variety of activities and may react aggressively at times. They can be easily distracted and have difficulty with attention.

    Therapy generally focuses on providing heavy work and deep pressure input. Slow linear vestibular input may also be helpful.

    Therapy also provides opportunities for participation in graded tactile experiences (Royeen & Lane, 1991). The proprioceptive sensory diet ideas for decreased discrimination of proprioceptive and vestibular information could be used in addition to the ideas specific to tactile defensiveness.

    Gravitational Insecurity

    Children with gravitational insecurity may exhibit limited participation in gross motor play; avoidance or fear of escalators, elevators, cars, or planes; or resistance to being off the ground. Treatment in the clinic environment generally focuses on providing proprioceptive input and graded vestibular input. In treatment, the child is always in control of the amount of vestibular input received and is never pushed beyond his or her limits (Koomar & Bundy, 1991).

    Environmental modifications would focus on helping the child to feel safe in all environments and situations. Sensory diet activities would focus on providing calming proprioceptive input throughout the day. The proprioceptive sensory diet ideas for decreased discrimination of proprioceptive and vestibular information could be used in addition to the ideas specific to gravitational insecurity.

    Individuals with these difficulties may have certain behaviors or characteristics in common.  There are underlying needs that result in adverse reactions to sensory processing. 

    The integration of sensory input leads to poor attention, self-regulation, co-regulation, self-monitoring, self-esteem, anxiety, discrimination, motor skills, communication, or responsiveness.  Incorporating healthy sensory habits within the family lifestyle is critical to success.

    The Sensory Systems

    Most of us learn about the five senses early in our childhood education.  Taste, touch, sight, sound, and scent are ingrained from a very young age.  It might be surprising to find out there are actually more than just five sensory systems.  With a typical Google search, you will learn that there are two more sensory systems that are added on to those five sensory systems. 

    The sensory breakdown includes aspects of each of the sensory systems (listed below):

    The proprioception system and vestibular system are two additional sensory systems.  However, when we consider perception, regulation, movement, interaction, and functioning, there are actually MORE systems that are involved. 

    These important systems are deeply connected to the central nervous system and are essential for perceiving and interpreting our world around us.  While they do not specifically sense input from the environment, they are and always have been an essential part of our existence. 

    Interoception is the sensory system of our inner body.  It includes organs, our heart, blood vessels, etc.  While the receptors to the five commonly known senses are obvious and clear, the receptors to the interoceptive system are inside our bodies.  They may not be seen but they are definitely important for functions such as emotional awareness, hunger, nervousness, fear, and feelings.  Our ability to sense fullness, elimination needs, temperature, thirst, sweat, and all require regulation of the interception system.

    You can see how this system is very much related and a part of other sensory systems in how a person functions.

    Additionally, there are other important systems that we are going to discuss in this book.  The somatosensory system refers to the integration of the visual and proprioceptive systems in order to perceive and respond with temporal and spatial organization, develop body scheme and postural response, stabilize the head and body during movement, and interpret touch sensation and pain needed for movements and actions.

    Finally, praxis, or kinesthesis help us understand how to move our bodies.  The praxic system, or the kinesthetic system essentially “puts it all together” when it comes to motor responses to sensory information that has been perceived by the other senses. 

    Putting it all together

    Let’s look at all of the sensory systems in a list:

    And the systems that are deeply connected to these sensory systems:

    • Somatosensory System (Movement organization)
    • Praxic/Kinesthetic System (How to move)

    Challenges with processing can mean that each of these sensory systems do not functioning adequately as an overall well-oiled machine. It’s then that you’ll see individuals with a poor reaction to the environment.

    Typically, dysfunction within these sensory systems present in many different ways. 

    • You may see withdrawal or over-responsiveness to auditory and visual stimuli.
    • You may see lack of focus on tasks and may feel insecurity in the environment, with poor body perception as a result. 
    • A child with sensory difficulties may be over- or under-responsive to sensory input. 
    • They may operate on an unusually high or unusually low level of activity. 
    • They may fatigue easily during activity or may constantly be in motion. 

    Children may fluctuate between responsiveness, activity levels, and energy levels.

    Additionally, children with sensory processing dysfunctions typically present with other delays.  Development of motor coordination, fine motor skills, gross motor skills, social-emotional skills, behaviors, executive functioning skills, language, and learning are all at risk as a result of impaired sensory processing.

    It is important to note that sensory processing is deeply connected to a combination of the sensory systems working together as well as the impact of environmental stimuli. 

    Sensation from the environment is combined with family life, parent expectations, peer interactions, classroom rules, community expectations, internal states such as feelings, hunger, fatigue, and health to result in behaviors responses.  Looking at the underlying reasons for behavioral responses is absolutely key to identifying strategies to help with “behaviors” or the actions we see. 

    Sensory Chart

    We’ve created a visual, sensory processing diagram to show exactly how these terms break down from an umbrella term of sensory processing disorder into more detailed and nuanced areas. As you can see, there is a lot to the overarching term of “sensory processing”.

    This free printable sheet guide to the breakdown or types of Sensory Processing Disorder is a great addition to your therapy toolbox.

    Print off the sensory chart and hang in on a wall or bulletin board for sensory processing awareness. This occupational therapy chart is a great visual to share with parents or educators when explaining how the whole system relates to behaviors and sensory considerations.  

    Types of sensory processing disorders in a printable sensory processing disorder chart.
    Sensory Processing Disorder Chart- Enter your email address below to get access to a printable version that can be hung on bulletin boards or used as an educational tool.

    Want a printable version of this sensory processing disorder chart? Enter your email address into the form below. You’ll receive the printable chart in your email inbox.

    This sensory chart is also found in our Member’s Club. Members can log in and access the handout under our Sensory Downloads area in the membership. While you’re there, also grab other sensory resources without the hassle of entering your email address for each resource.

    Free Sensory Processing Disorder CHART

      We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at anytime.

      More Sensory Processing Information

      Want to know more or to add another handy educational handout to your therapy toolbox? Grab a copy of each of the sensory processing tools below.

      1. Sensory processing information handout– It’s a great way to break these complex concepts down into easily digestible and understandable information. Print off the pamphlet and use it to share with educators, parents, caregivers so they can better understand sensory processing disorder.
      2. Sensory Red Flags– Print off this list of sensory red flags to use as a checklist to determine sensory challenges.
      3. Sensory Strategies Toolkit– The Classroom Sensory Strategy Toolkit is a free printable packet of resources and handouts that can be used by teachers, parents, and therapists. Whether you are looking for a handout to explain sensory strategies, or a tool for advocating for your child, the Classroom Sensory Strategy Toolkit has got you covered.
      4. Sensory Lifestyle Handbook– This is a resource for those living with, teaching, or working with children with sensory needs. For the child with sensory processing needs, everything about life can be distressing! Sensory processing challenges can impact a child’s every interaction and environment. Sensory challenges affect behavior, self-regulation, attention, development, learning, social skills, emotional development, and independence. The child who struggles with sensory processing may be challenged daily with rigorous interactions. For these children, sensory input or sensory-based accommodations can make all the difference.

      DIY Fidget Toys

      Diy fidget toys

      These DIY fidget toys are homemade fidgets that kids can make. Use these fidget items to help kids pay attention and focus in the classroom or home. Add these ideas to your occupational therapy toys that support kids through play while targeting self-regulation skills.

      Kids can use these DIY fidget toys to help with attention and sensory needs in the classroom or at home.

      DIY Fidget Toys

      Fidget toys are in the hands of many school-aged kids.  Students without sensory or attention needs are playing with fidget toys on the playground, on the school bus, and in the classroom.  You can find spinner fidgets, and so many other fidget toys in many stores and online, but what about the DIY version?

      The thing about some store-bought fidget tools is that they are noisy and call attention to the user. Fidget toys have become more popular in recent years, allowing those that truly need them for meeting sensory and motor needs to be more mainstream.

      In fact, using a few of these games with paper clips are good ways to fidget with the fingers using everyday materials.

      However, that can be another issue when a student has a fidget tool in the classroom. It can draw attention to the student because other students see the itm as a toy rather than a tool to support learning.

      Coming up with quiet fidget toys that help the child meet their sensory and movement needs without creating more noise or attention in the classroom can be tricky. Here are more ideas for quiet fidget toys for the classroom.

      So what is the obsession with these fidget toys?  

      The fidgets are intended to provide kids with a means to occupy their hands so that they can focus during tasks that require attention.  There are many children who need fidget tools in order to complete work.  Most of us know the feeling: the urge to doodle when talking on the phone or the tendency to tap a foot during a lengthy work meeting.  

      Fidgeting is a tool that helps us to actually pay attention and focus on the task at hand in many situations. Fidgeting during homework or in the classroom is a common behavior. 

      Diy fidget toy for kids to use when learning
      Make a DIY fidget toy using beads and a craft stick.

      DIY Fidget Toys

      Affiliate links are included here.


      You have probably seen kids (and maybe your own kids) spinning these spinner fidget toys.  

      The fidgets that are in every school and classroom these days are beneficial to some students.  For others, they are a cool new toy.  For those that require a fidget tool to focus or attend, or have sensory needs requiring the hands and fingers to move, other fidget toys may work just as well. 

      keychain fidget toys
      Keychain fidget toys can be a great way to add movement inexpensively.


      Fidgeting during work stimulates the brain, allowing a child to complete school work or homework.

      Fidgeting is mindless play or touching fingers, pencils, hands…anything that allows a person to focus on the task at hand. Kids that are fidgeting are seeking calm, and focus so that their brain can complete a task.

      The problem is when the brain’s urge to fidget distracts a child from school tasks. They might be so wiggly and moving that they just can not sit still and focus in a functional manner. Fidgeting can be managed with less distracting techniques which can allow the child to accomplish the homework, and move on to other things.

      Calming weighted fidget toys for kids
      Use a glove to make a weighted fidget tool for kids. Here are the instructions for this DIY fidget tool.

      Homemade Fidget Toys for Kids

      Here are a variety of DIY fidgets that can work for kids in the classroom or at home:

      How to Make Fidget Toys

      Getting kids involved with making homemade fidget toys is part of the fun. There are fine motor benfits involved in this process, too.

      1. First, select the type of DIY fidget you would like to use to meet specific needs.
      2. Next, select materials. You may need pipe cleaners, beads, balloons, or nuts and bots.
      3. Prepare a work space. Set out the materails on a table or desk.
      4. Students can select the materials they would like to use.
      5. Create a fidget tool using the materials.

      The nice thing about fidgets is that with the growth of YouTube as a resource, there are many videos on how to make fidget toys out there. Use one of those available videos as your inspiration, or use the materials you have on hand.

      If one thing is for certain, it is possible to make a DIY fidget toy using anything!

      homework fidget toys
      Try these suggestions for homework and classroom fidget tools.

      What are your favorite DIY fidget toys?  Do you have any favorite tools that work for your child, student, or client?

      fidget tool or a fidget toy? 

      Here is your disclaimer on the wording of this blog post…

      The term fidget toy is very well known these days, with the popularity of spinner fidgets.  However, there is a distinction between a fidget toy and a fidget tool.  When there is a therapeutic need for a product, it is a tool.  A therapy tool is one that helps meet goals, results in independence through intervention.  Something that looks like a toy can be a tool for the child with sensory needs, fine motor challenges, attention difficulties, or any other problem areas.  

      Fidget tools are those that help kids cope, meet sensory needs, and get the input they need so they can focus, pay attention, and move. In this blog post, I am using these terms interchangeably, for best search results. In other words, people complete a Google search for fidget toy, not a fidget tool, and I want this information to be found on Google so that the kids who need a fidget tool are well-served!

      These DIY fidget toys are a perfect addition to the classroom to address sensory and attention needs in kids.

      Need to add DIY fidget toys to a sensory diet? Wondering how to integrate a sensory diet into everyday tasks? A sensory lifestyle may be more of what you are looking for! DIY fidget toys fit right into a sensory lifestyle with ease and flexibility.

      Read all about how to create a sensory lifestyle here:

      The Sensory Lifestyle Handbook walks you through sensory processing information, each step of creating a meaningful and motivating sensory diet, that is guided by the individual’s personal interests and preferences.

      The Sensory Lifestyle Handbook is not just about creating a sensory diet to meet sensory processing needs. This handbook is your key to creating an active and thriving lifestyle based on a deep understanding of sensory processing.

      Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20+ years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

      Sensory Summer Camp at Home

      sensory camp for summer

      Summer camp is an exciting experience for most kids, but what if you could create a custom sensory summer camp that supports sensory processing for all needs?  Summer is a time of learning, fun, and new adventures over the lazy days of summer.  Summer camp in the traditional sense is a time of themed activities that build character for a child.  

      However, it’s not always possible to sign up for a week of summer camp. Summer camp is expensive.  Parents work or have busy schedules that make a week-long summer camp just not feasible.  A backyard DIY summer camp experience is a way to save money while creating a summer learning experiences right in the backyard. 

      Be sure to check out this resource on how to run a therapy camp for tips and strategies with sensory summer camp planning.

      Sensory Summer Camp

      One great addition to a sensory summer camp is our free summer sensory path! It’s a free sensory printable you can hang on a wall to add sensory motor, mindfulness, and sensory coping tools with a summer theme. 

      I’m joining several other bloggers who write about sensory processing in a Sensory Summer Camp at Home backyard summer camp experience.  


      Scroll through the links below to find enough sensory summer camp themes and ideas to last all summer long.  You’ll find themed activities touching on all of the sensory systems to create an environment of learning through the senses.

      Looking for a sensory camp that supports specific needs? No worries! The activities below support and challenge sensory touch!

      You can find so many summer sensory activities here on the website to address various sensory motor considerations.

      Specifically, these summer occupational therapy activities support development of skills across the board while focusing on the primary job of kids: play!


      These sensory summer camp experiences are perfect for the child who craves or resists sensory input and can be modified to meet the needs of every child with sensory processing disorder.  While these sensory summer camp ideas are perfect for kids with sensory processing disorder, they can easily be used in traditional summer camps.  So, take a look at each of the camp themes below and get ready for a summer of sensory fun and memories!

      Looking for activities and ideas to use in summer programming? You’ll love our new Summer Occupational Therapy Activities Packet. It’s a collection of 14 items that guide summer programming at home, at school, and in therapy sessions. The summer activities bundle covers handwriting, visual perceptual skills and visual motor skills, fine motor skills, gross motor skills, regulation, and more.

      You’ll find ideas to use in virtual therapy sessions and to send home as home activities that build skills and power development with a fun, summer theme. Kids will love the Summer Spot It! game, the puzzles, handouts, and movement activities. Therapists will love the teletherapy slide deck and the easy, ready-to-go activities to slot into OT sessions. The packet is only $10.00 and can be used over and over again for every student/client!

      Grab the Spring Occupational Therapy Activities Packet HERE.

      summer occupational therapy activities for kids

      n the Summer OT packet, you’ll find:

      • Beach Fun Google Slide Deck/PDF set
      • Summer Spot It! Printable Game
      • Hole Punch Cards for matching upper case and lower case letters
      • 7 Roll and Write Play Dough Sheets – Apples, Bees, Bugs, Buttons, Donuts, Play Dough, and Unicorn themes
      • Summer Fun Pencil Control Strips
      • Summer Lists Writing Prompts
      • Summer Number Practice
      • Summer Visual Perception Pages

      All of the Summer OT activities include ideas to promote various developmental areas with a Summer-theme. Activities guide and challenge development of handwriting, eye-hand coordination, bilateral coordination, body scheme, oculomotor control, visual perception, fine motor skills, self-regulation, gross motor skills, and more.

      Use these activities as warm-ups to your therapy sessions, or add them to the homework page below to create a home program.

       
      Sensory Summer camp at home ideas for kids with sensory processing needs
       

       

      Occupational Therapy Summer Camp

      I love the play-based sensory and motor activities in the summer camp ideas listed below. Each would be a great summer camp theme for using in an occupational therapy summer camp.

      OT professionals know the power of play. But occupational therapy supports development, and while a traditional occupational therapy summer camp may not be an individualized process, there is still skill development happening even in a group setting. 

      An occupational therapy summer camp can focus on an area of function: sensory play experiences, handwriting, shoe tying, typing, or social emotional skills. The sky is the limit this summer when it comes to OT camps as a tool and resource for kids and parents. 

      However, because an OT camp might not be focused on individual needs and goals of the camp participant, a summer occupational therapy camp can integrate play, sensory experiences, and any summer theme you can imagine. 

      These summer sensory camp ideas below can get you started with brainstorming:


      Outer Space Summer Camp at Home Ideas


      Circus Summer Camp At Home Ideas

      Sensory Handwriting Camp

      Address handwriting skills during a summer camp with sensory input, tactile play, and sensory motor experiences!

      Sensory Space Camp | My Mundane and Miraculous Life


      Sensory Olympic Games Camp | Growing Hands on Kids


      Sensory Nature Camp | Putting Socks on Chickens

      Sensory Summer camp at home ideas for kids with sensory processing needs

       

      The Sensory Lifestyle Handbook walks you through sensory processing information, each step of creating a meaningful and motivating sensory diet, that is guided by the individual’s personal interests and preferences.

      The Sensory Lifestyle Handbook is not just about creating a sensory diet to meet sensory processing needs. This handbook is your key to creating an active and thriving lifestyle based on a deep understanding of sensory processing.

      Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20+ years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.