How to Help Kids with Sensory Issues with Clothes

Tips for children with clothing sensory issues

Here, we’ll discuss the specific considerations for sensory issues with clothes. You’ll also find intervention strategies to support children with clothing sensitivities. The thing is that sensory processing issues for children can be highly complex and sometimes puzzling to those who do not have these difficulties. We see children that refuse to wear socks or shoes. Or we see children who will not put on pants in the dead of winter. Other kids can’t tolerate the seams of shorts or the fasteners of bras. How do you support individuals with sensory sensitivities? Let’s talk about strategies to address clothing sensitivities.

Sensory issues with clothes

This post addresses and discusses considerations and a few possible solutions for clothing sensitivities to provide insight and areas to investigate in order to provide a child with the best possible sensory experiences with dressing and clothing as possible. The considerations are not all encompassing, but do provide valuable information in pursuit of understanding the possible reasons for clothing sensitivities for a child.

Sensory issues with clothes

Sensory issues with clothes and other sensory challenges can interfere with school, community, and home life for children who struggle with sensory processing on a daily, hourly, or even minute by minute basis. Sensory issues can be random, sporadic and happen one time, but not another despite similarities in circumstances.

A child can also have sensory sensitivities and not be diagnosed with a disorder per se, but even sensitivities have a real impact on daily functioning. Check out these clothing red flags for common sensory issues that come up again and again.

A common sensory issue reported by parents are their child’s clothing sensitivities. This involves more than the child who always wants to wear the same shirt because it has their favorite logo on it or it is their favorite color as this is more about style preference. It’s dealing more with a child who has real issues donning clothing and refuses to wear an article of clothing based on the way it feels causing the child to cry and scream and not be able to proceed with the task of dressing. 

Using certain clothing preferences to address clothing sensitivities include sensory friendly clothing options.

All of us have separate sensory systems that help us register, discriminate, and process sensory input. When there is a clothing sensitivity, this is dealing with the tactile (touch) sense and how the information from that sense is sending information to our brain to process. These may show up as tactile defensiveness in some.

We have fabrics we like as they are cozy and provide us comfort and we have fabrics that are scratchy and prickly causing anxiety and keeping us on edge not allowing us to focus on much of anything else other than getting it off. Some individuals with serious sensory issues register this input as harmful and even dangerous making them want to flee or do anything to get that feeling away from them. An important thing to remember is never force a child to don something that they perceive as painful or harmful. A child’s dramatic responses, such as mentioned above, can make home life chaotic and frustrating.

Stating the obvious, dressing is a necessary part of daily living and clothing is required for a child to engage in school and community life and it helps for clothing to be worn at home even though it is not completely necessary there. With some children who do have intense clothing sensitivities, they find their home is a free place to go without clothes.

If you are a parent, these considerations can help you investigate and pinpoint the possible problem with clothing or dressing for your child. These considerations can give you valuable information to either share with your child’s OT practitioner or to pursue an assessment with an occupational therapist. Occupational therapy practitioners can provide interventions specifically directed for your child and their needs as every child is different and requires a skilled set of eyes with knowledge of your child and their needs to provide the best possible interventions and opportunity for your child’s successful daily life engagement.


Sometimes considering simple clothing anatomy for sensory sensitivities can be a good place to start, but there are other areas of clothing and the tactile (touch) sense that need to be explored a little more directly. We’ll look at both in this post.

Related: Sensory issues that impact fine motor skills can make fastening buttons and zippers a difficulty for many children.

Tips for children with clothing sensory issues

Sensory issues with Pants


Consider: length of shirt sleeves and pant legs. The feeling of pant legs and sleeves can cause aggravation to the child’s extremities. Maybe the sounds of fabric while walking such as when wearing denim or corduroy or even the feeling of the leg fabric rubbing together while walking is enough to irritate.

Consider: elastic waistbands vs. zippered and buttoned pants as they may work better for the child. Elastic can provide more flexibility and comfort for some children. Does the waistband roll down or bunch up or are there hidden adjustable waist band apparatuses? Adjustable apparatuses can be cut out by an adult if necessary.


Consider: if there are tags or buttons sewn into the seam of pants of shorts. A tag at the back of pants can cause irritation. These can be removed by cutting out or purchase tag-free clothing.

Consider: certain textures may be more irritating to the skin or even possibly pulling arm or leg hair. If older, shaving legs can help. If the texture feel is the difficulty, purchase clothing with more soft and natural materials.

Sensory issues with shirts


Consider: The length of shirt sleeves. The feeling of sleeves can cause a tight sensation in the arm pits or around the neck, elbows, or wrists, causing aggravation to the child’s extremities. Clothing can feel too tight in the trunk.

Consider: length of shirt tails as they can be drafty if short, especially when sitting.

Consider: if the clothes are too tight or too loose. Do they sway or shift when they move? Does the fabric bunch up in the arm pits or at the wrists from being too big? Purchase clothing with the fit that is preferred for size and pressure, maybe they like tight vs. loose.

Consider: graphics on shirts and get one-dimensional graphics if necessary therefore no sequins, gems, puffy pieces, etc. are impacting the child.

Consider: if the seams in clothing are large or thick with too much fabric inside the clothing causing discomfort. Check this before you purchase clothing items. Purchase seamless clothing or turn clothing inside out as appropriate.

Consider: the pulling of hair as a shirt is pulled over the head or being too tight of a neck hole causing irritation. Purchase button up shirts vs. overhead shirts.

Consider: some clothes may be more uncomfortable to wear due to the feel of waistbands, cuffs, or collars. Explore if they are too tight, too loose, ribbed or simply hemmed. Maybe a certain type is preferred over another. Purchase no collared clothing or lightly hemmed cuffs vs snug-fitting, ribbed cuffs.

How to help your child with clothing sensory issues

General Sensory Considerations with Clothing

Sensory issues with clothes can look different for every individual. But, there are some common similarities that make helping those with clothing sensitivities more comfortable and functional. Try these general considerations:


Consider: some clothing may be hotter or even colder to wear.

Consider: how clothes fit and adhere to the body when sitting vs. standing. Also, check regarding static cling in different seasons and purchase cling free dryer sheets to help when drying clothes.

Consider: layers of clothing to keep warm rather than wearing a jacket.

Consider: the smell of the clothing. Is the smell of the detergent, fabric softener or dryer sheet too strong for the child to tolerate? Purchase odorless detergent, softener or dryer sheets.

Consider: the color of the article of clothing, if they’ve had a bad experience with a certain color, it could be recalled for every article of clothing that color.

Sensory Socks and Shoes

Issues with wearing socks or shoes is a common concern for those with sensory challenges.

Consider: checking sock seams and the position on the toes. How do the socks fit? Are they a good size, too tight, too loose, too short, or too long? Have the socks stretched and become ill-fitting? Purchase seamless socks or wear them inside out.

Consider: if socks are smooth or have fuzz ball lent on them. Are they nylon or cotton fabric, thick or thin? Purchase socks that do not gather fuzz balls as they are washed.

Consider: if toe nails are scrapping the fabric when donning. Do the shoes “eat” the socks when walking causing them to ball up under the heel? Cut the toe nails and purchase socks that do not get pulled under the heel.

Consider: shoe comfort such as width, size, and how high the backs are. Are the shoes too tight or too loose? Purchase shoes that have an open heel.

Consider:  if the tongue is twisted or shifted. Is there anything inside that could be poking or irritating the foot?  Make sure to put laces through the slots on shoe tongues to keep them straight, if this is part of the shoe design.

Understand that shoes fit and feel different with and without socks and even with thick or thin socks.

Sensory Issues and Underwear

Consider: the seams in the underwear, especially in the crotch. Are the genitals comfortable? Purchase underwear without seams or fewer seams.  

Consider: if they fit too loose or too tight. Maybe they prefer more tightness like boxer briefs or maybe they prefer more looseness like regular briefs. Is the waistband too high, too low, too tight or too loose on the stomach? Is the hip design too high or too low?

Consider: if they bunch up when pants or shorts are donned. Does the underwear ride the groove between the buttocks when walking or moving? Do they harbor hygiene odors?

Consider: if the child has thigh sensitivity and underwear is possibly pulling leg hair such as with boxer briefs.

Sensory Issues and Bras

Sensory issues in teens can show up in different ways than the younger years. Some considerations include the need for a bra. For kids that previously have struggled with tight or scratchy sensations with clothing, wearing a bra can be difficult. Here are some things to consider:

Consider: the fit of the bra. Is it too tight and causing discomfort from the straps, rings/sliders, under band, or underwire as evidenced by skin markings and redness? Purchase bralettes or bras that do not have these features. Maybe an athletic bra would be better.

Consider: if they are sensitive to the feel of the hook closures against the back when leaning on a surface. Do the straps brush the arm as they slide off of the shoulder causing some irritation? Does the fabric feel uncomfortable such as with lace that tends to be scratchy?

Sensory Pajamas

Sleepwear can cause a lot of issues for some children. Pajamas can be tight and compressing, which can benefit other children who prefer and benefit from compression garments. Others, however, can feel too much pressure that impacts sleep. Here are some things to consider about sensory issues and pajamas.

Consider: the fit of sleepwear. Is it too tight, too loose, too hot, too cold, too scratchy, or too silky? Is the texture of the material such as fleece, silk, nylon, cotton, spandex, etc. cause irritation or does the sound of it against the bed sheets cause sensitivity?

Consider: if wearing p.j. bottoms, do the legs of the pants ride up the leg while moving in bed causing bunching and sensitivity? Do the shirt sleeves shift up the arm when sleeping making them uncomfortable causing bunching and creases that rub or mark the skin?

Consider: if buttons cause discomfort when lying on the stomach. Do collars or tags irritate? Do ribbed cuffs or seams cause irritation?


Investigate the fabric and other issues of the bed sheets and covers. Explore the sounds, feel, temperature, fuzz balls on the fabric due to washing, smell of detergent, softener, dryer sheets, static cling, etc.

There are many ways to address these sensory sensitivities. Sometimes any number of the above solutions can help. Allowing a child to shop for their own clothing and make their own choices while acknowledging and respecting their desire and need for certain tolerated textures can help with sensory issues.

But for those with more intense sensitivities the best bet for success is looking at a sensory diet tailored to their direct needs. If you are a parent, contact an occupational therapist for assistance. They are available to assess, treat, and consult regarding your child’s specific sensory needs. Often times, sensory sensitivities can be significantly reduced or even completely eliminated with proper treatment.

In the Sensory Lifestyle Handbook, we cover various options to address sensory issues in children and teens. You’ll find in this comprehensive resource, strategies to implement a motivating and meaningful sensory diet that is integrated right into day-to-day activities and tasks in order to create a lifestyle of sensory solutions.

Read more about the Sensory Lifestyle Handbook here.

How to support children with clothing sensitivities

If you are an occupational therapy practitioner, below are some activities or intervention ideas which can help support a child with their tactile sensitivities. Be sure to go through the considerations listed above to investigate where clothing sensitivities are stemming from in regards to specific clothing. This step can help with finding clothing styles and types that meet the needs of the individual child.

1. Explore a variety of fabrics on the skin by using fabric swatches – increase time as tolerated.

2. Desensitize skin with lotion rubbing prior to donning clothing.

3. Use whole body deep pressure activities.

4. Present a variety of textured materials by dressing a doll with various textured clothes.

5. Consider using an OT brushing or pressure protocol.

6. Massage with a towel vigorously prior to introducing new textures.

7. Rub feet with lotion or towel prior to donning socks or shoes.

8. Provide textured material exploration with sensory bins

9. Provide textured floor mats for feet.

10. Explore textures using stuffed animals of different textures.

11. Suggest tight-fitting swim or biking shirt or shorts, spandex clothing or workout attire under clothes.

12. Use vibration to the extremities and back/neck as tolerated even allowing child to do this – sometimes the child will choose to do this themselves.

13. Use firm pressure activities such as rolling a therapy ball up and down the body (avoid the face).

14. Use a squeeze machine or body sock.

15. Roll child up in a bedsheet (not the face) like a taco.

16. Use firm pressure to the top of the head or up and down the arms/legs.

17. Give hugs.

18. Rub lotion on body prior to dressing as dry skin can be more easily irritated than moist skin.

19. Use a compression shirt.         

20. Create a tailored sensory diet. You’ll find more information on how to create a sensory diet here.

Sensory lifestyle handbook- How to create a sensory diet

Utilize the motivating strategies in the Sensory Lifestyle Handbook to integrate a sensory diet right into the daily life activities of each child, in a way that works for the whole family.

Click here to grab your copy of the Sensory Lifestyle Handbook.

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!

Messy Eating

Benefits of Messy eating for babies and toddlers

Have you ever noticed that small children eat meals with recklessness? Bits of food covers the face, cheeks, hands, lap, floor, belly, and even hair. Part of it is learning to use utensils and manage food on the fork or spoon. But there’s more to messy eating too! Messy eating for a baby or toddler is actually a good thing, and completely normal part of child development. And, letting a small child get messy when they eat, and even playing with their food as they eat is OK!

Messy eating in babies and toddlers has benefits to developing tactile sensory challenges and fine motor skills in young children.

Messy eating

I’m sure that your mother never told you it was okay to play with your food at the dinner table, but I’m here to tell you otherwise. Playing with food is not only okay, it is vital to development of self feeding skills and positive engagement with food. When young children play with their food they are engaging in a rich, exploratory sensory experience that helps them develop knowledge of texture, taste, smell, changing visual presentation of foods and oral motor development.

When play with food is discouraged it can lead to picky eaters, oral motor delays and increased hesitancy with trying new foods later on.

Eating with hands- Messy benefits

When solid foods are introduced to baby, it is often a VERY messy ordeal. There is food on the chair, the bib, the floor, you…everywhere but the baby’s mouth. Often times, parents may feel discouraged or don’t like the mess that is the result, but it is OK. In fact, the messier the better.

Exploring food textures with the hands provides tactile experience to the hands, palm, and individual fingers. Are foods sticky, chunky, goopy, or gooey? All of that exposure to the hands is filed away as exposure to textures.

Picking up and manipulating foods offers fine motor benefits, too. Picking up and manipulating bits of food offers repetition in pincer grasp, graded precision, grasp and release, eye-hand coordination, bilateral coordination, crossing midline, and proprioceptive feedback. All of this is likely presented in a baby seat or high chair that offers support and stability through the trunk and core. When that support is offered to babies and toddlers, they can then work on the distal coordination and dexterity. At first, manipulation of food is very messy as those refined skills are developed, but it’s all “on-the-job training” with tasty benefits!

Research shows that a child moves through a series of exploratory steps before successfully eating new foods. This process involves messy play from the hands, up the arms, onto the head and then into the mouth. The steps of this process cannot happen unless the child is encouraged to touch, examine and play with their food. In today’s culture of sterilization and cleanliness, this often counterintuitive to parents and a hard pattern to break.

Promoting Play with Food

Mealtimes can be rushed affairs, making it hard to play with food, but they are not the only times we engage with food throughout the day.

Cooking and meal prep are two of the most common opportunities for play and engagement with food. These activities present perfect opportunities for parents to talk about color, size, shape, texture, smell and taste of the foods that are being prepared. Use of descriptive words,
over exaggeration when talking about and tasting foods, along exploration opportunities develop a positive interest in foods.

Babies can be involved in kitchen prep as they play with appropriate utensils and kitchen items like baby-safe bowls or pots. Toddlers enjoy being involved in the food preparations and can wash, prep, and even chop soft foods with toddler-safe kitchen tools.

Explore these cooking with kids recipes to get small children involved in all the benefits of the kitchen.

Here are more baby play ideas that promote development.

Food Art

Free play with foods like yogurt, jello and applesauce are also great opportunities to promote messy play and creativity. Utilize these foods for finger painting, or painting with other foods as the brushes. This activity challenges tactile and smell regulation, along with constant changes in
the visual presentation of the food.

Creativity with Food

When presented with food for free play, or at the dinner table encourage their creativity–carrot sticks become cars or paint brushes, and raisins become ants on a log.

The sillier the presentation, and more engaged the child becomes, the more likely they are to eat the foods you have presented to them. Especially, if these foods are new, or are non-preferred foods. High levels of over exaggeration also leads to increased positive experiences with foods, which in turn leads to happier eaters, and less stressful mealtimes
down the road.

Ideas like these flower snacks promote healthy eating and can prompt a child to explore new textures or tastes in a fun, themed creative food set-up.

Messy Eating and Oral Motor Development

Not only does play promote increased sensory regulation and positive engagement with foods, it also promotes oral motor skill development.
Oral motor skill development is promoted when a variety of foods are presented and the mastered skills are challenged.

Here is more information on oral motor problems and feeding issues that are often concerns for parents. The question of feeding concerns and picky eating being a sensory issue or oral motor motor concern comes up frequently.

Foods that are long and stick like such as carrots, celery and bell peppers, promote integration of the gag reflex, along with development of the transverse tongue reflex that later supports tongue lateralization for bolus management.

Foods such as peas, or grapes promote oral awareness and regulation for foods that “pop” when bitten, and abilities to manage multiple textures at one time.

Messy Eating and Positive Mealtimes

Whether you have a picky eater, or are just trying to make mealtimes fun, play is the way to go!

Play with food is critical to development of oral motor skills and sensory regulation needed to support positive meal times. Through the use of creative play, exposure, and over exaggeration these milestones can be achieved.

Virtual Sensory Room

Virtual sensory room

This virtual sensory room has been on my “to-do” list for a while. It’s a free slide deck that adds all the benefits of a calming sensory space in an online version. You can use this free virtual calming room as a sensory tool in teletherapy sessions, in the home, and in face-to-face classroom or therapy sessions. Let’s take a look at this virtual sensory room space and all of the calming tools it includes.

Virtual sensory room that is a virtual calming room space for kids in teletherapy or face to face therapy, classroom, or home.

Virtual Sensory Room

Adding sensory diet tools to an online platform isn’t always an easy concept. Especially in a virtual space, the calming benefits of a sensory room can be difficult to integrate the senses of proprioception, vestibular input, and oral motor sensory input.

Many of the free online sensory videos out there are mindfulness videos, virtual lava lamps, and auditory videos like waves or rainforest sounds. But the virtual sensory spaces sometimes omit calming heavy work input and proprioceptive feedback that offer the calming and self-regulatory benefits of heavy work.

That’s why I wanted to create this virtual calming room.

Virtual sensory room for kids

Virtual Calming Room

In this virtual calming room, you’ll find the following sensory items that kids can click on and access videos:

  • Fidget Spinner
  • Water bottle
  • Hoberman breathing sphere
  • Sensory jar
  • Plasma globe
  • Kaledescope
  • Rubic cube
  • Bubble wands
  • Lava lamp
  • Slime
  • Calming sounds headphones
  • Koosh Ball
  • Glitter jars
  • Fish tank visual
  • Online relaxing coloring activities
  • Sound machine
  • Yoga mat
  • Kinetic Sand Bin
  • Bubble wrap popping activity
  • Heavy work exercises
  • Light tube
  • Nature grounding exercises
  • Waterbeads sensory bin
  • Brain breaks
  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Sequin pillow
  • Light tube
  • Kids crafts

When you click on the sensory objects in the sensory room, you’ll be directed to different online sensory tools. These include:

  • Guided meditation videos
  • Slime videos
  • Yoga exercises
  • Calming sounds videos
  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Craft ideas to involve the hands in fine motor resistive work
  • Grounding exercises
  • Calming visual images
  • Relaxing vision and auditory input
  • Brain breaks
  • Calming videos

All of these are links to videos, exercises, and resources to promote calming self-regulatory input for kids of all ages. You can add these tools to a sensory diet or use them in Zones of Regulation activities.

Free sensory room slide deck

Want to add this online sensory room to your therapy toolbox? Enter your email address into the form below and you can add this tool to your Google drive. It’s just one of the many free slides available here on The OT Toolbox.

NOTE- Due to an increase in security measures, many readers utilizing a work or school district email address have had difficulty accessing downloads from the delivery email. Consider using a personal email address and forwarding the download to your work account.

Free Virtual Sensory Room!

    We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at anytime.

    Add heavy work with these heavy work exercises to incorporate many themes into therapy and play.

    heavy work cards for regulation, attention, and themed brain breaks

    Click here to grab these heavy work cards.

    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.

    Easter Activities

    It’s that time again!  Easter is around the corner and so you may be searching for a few Easter activities. These spring activities are ones that have a movement and play component so that kids build skills they need while celebrating the season. Below, you’ll find Easter ideas, Easter crafts, egg activities, songs, and bunny games are all themed on Easters, eggs, and bunnies. So if you’re planning a few fun activities for the kids this Easter, look no further.  We have got you covered on the bunny cuteness overload!

    Easter activities, crafts, and games that build skills for occupational therapy sessions and goal areas.

    Easter Activities for Occupational Therapy

    Scissor Skills– Use fake Easter grass to work on scissor skills.

    Visual Perception/Fine Motor– Work on visual discrimination, bilateral coordination, and hand strength with this color matching egg hunt.

    Oral Motor Skills/Proprioception– Build oral motor skills and add calming proprioceptive input through the mouth with this bunny race activity.

    Oral Motor Skills/Fine Motor– Use plastic eggs to make boats that really float and are powered by breath, a great calming self-regulation activity. It’s a fun fine motor STEM activity, too.

    Intrinsic Hand Strength– After dying eggs, use the extra egg cartons to build in-hand manipulation and precision in dexterity with this fine motor activity.

    Open Thumb Web-Space/Eye-Hand Coordination– Build motor skills in the hands using egg dying tongs to sort and manipulate small objects.

    Fine Motor Skills– Use pipe cleaners to make mini-bunnies and mini-carrots for fine motor manipulatives.

    Shoe Tying– Or, use that egg carton to work on shoe tying.

    Pre-Writing Lines– Grab some wikki stix and work on pre-writing lines and handwriting with an egg theme.

    Easter Crafts

    Make bunnies and carrots from pipe cleaners for an Easter occupational therapy tool.

    Make a set of these pipe cleaner Bunny and Carrots to use in fine motor activities, play, counting, and imagination play. 

    Easter fine motor manipulative to help with fine motor skills in kids.

    Try these cotton ball bunny craft manipulatives to use in play, fine motor activities and imagination play. 

        RELATED READ: Simple Spring Sensory

    Easter Bunny Activities for Kids

     This 5 Little Bunnies Finger Rhyme from Let’s Play Music is a great way to work on finger dexterity and coordination.

    Bunny lacing activity to build fine motor skills

    Easter Lacing Cards from Totschooling helps with bilateral coordination, eye-hand coordination, visual motor skills, and more. Here is more information on the benefits of lacing cards for kids

    Easter activity with plastic easter eggs

    Use plastic Easter eggs to make boats with a sensory benefit. It’s a calming sensory activity that kids will love.

    Grab a handful of Easter eggs and use them to work on color identification in a color scavenger hunt.

    Easter writing activity to help kids wrok on pre-writing lines and pencil control with an Easter egg theme.

    Use this Easter egg writing activity to help kids work on pre-writing lines and pencil control, as well as coordination and visual motor skills.

    Gross motor easter activity

    Try this Bunny Hop ABC Game from Fantastic, Fun, and Learning to add gross motor skills, motor planning, and coordination skills in outdoor play.

    Easter activity with coloring pages and dot to dot pages

    Try these Bunny Coloring Pages from Kids Activities Blog for visual perception, visual motor skills, pencil control, and more.

    Use this bunny activity to work on bilateral coordination, eye hand coordination and fine motor skills.

    Grab a pair of Bunny Tongs from the dollar store for a fine motor Easter activity that builds scissor skills and eye-hand coordination. 

    Bunny craft for kids at Easter time, using toilet paper tubes to make an Easter craft while building fine motor skills.

    Make Toilet Paper Roll Bunnies like this Easter craft from Toddling in the Fast Lane for a fine motor workout with cute results.

    Spring Fine Motor Kit

    Score Fine Motor Tools and resources and help kids build the skills they need to thrive!

    Developing hand strength, dexterity, dexterity, precision skills, and eye-hand coordination skills that kids need for holding and writing with a pencil, coloring, and manipulating small objects in every day task doesn’t need to be difficult. The Spring Fine Motor Kit includes 100 pages of fine motor activities, worksheets, crafts, and more:

    Spring fine motor kit set of printable fine motor skills worksheets for kids.
    • Lacing cards
    • Sensory bin cards
    • Hole punch activities
    • Pencil control worksheets
    • Play dough mats
    • Write the Room cards
    • Modified paper
    • Sticker activities
    • MUCH MORE

    Click here to add this resource set to your therapy toolbox.

    Spring Fine Motor Kit
    Spring Fine Motor Kit: TONS of resources and tools to build stronger hands.

    Grab your copy of the Spring Fine Motor Kit and build coordination, strength, and endurance in fun and creative activities. Click here to add this resource set to your therapy toolbox.

    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.

    Plastic Egg Boats with Oral Motor Sensory Input

    Easter activity with plastic easter eggs
    These plastic Easter egg boats is a Spring occupational therapy activity to add to your line-up this year. If you’ve got a few plastic Easter eggs on hand and some play dough, you are ready to go for Easter STEM that challenges kids to explore fine motor skills in STEM activities AND incorporates wind power with calming oral motor sensorimotor input and got our boats moving, sensory style!  
     
    Hey now, there’s an idea: There’s STEM for science, technology, engineering, and math, right?  And there’s STEAM with the added component of art…what if we added a sensory component to the STEM/STEAM mix?? It could be called STEMS or STEAMS!  I think it’s what the world needs: bring the science/math/art/technology, etc full circle with whole body movements and the underlying systems of sensory processing for integrated learning through the senses.  Genius I tell ya!
     
    STEMS: Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, and SENSORY 
    STEAMS: Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math, and SENSORY
     
    You heard it here first!
     
    Back to our world-changing egg boats.
     
     

     

    Plastic egg boats with an oral sensory motor component for proprioception input to the mouth.
     

    Plastic Easter Egg Boats

    Full disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.
     
    This is an easy activity to throw together:  Grab some plastic eggs, straws (every childhood needs brightly colored straws), card stock, tape, and play dough.  Fill one half of the plastic egg with play dough.  Stick a piece of straw into the play dough.  Tape a triangle of card stock to the straw.  Done.
     
    Plastic egg boats with an oral sensory motor component for proprioception input to the mouth.
     
    NOW:  Here’s the fun part.  Fill a bin with water and see if they will float.  If you and the kids have filled the plastic eggs
    to the brim with play dough, they will not. Alas, you’ve got some capsized eggs.  However, with some help from your STEM noggin, you can remove some of the play dough so it’s just a bit at the bottom of the egg.  See how they float now.  
     
    Move the play dough up the sides of the egg a bit more and see if you can get the boats to stay upright.  Now we’re talkin’!
     
    Plastic egg boats with an oral sensory motor component for proprioception input to the mouth.
     

    Oral Motor Sensory Activity Wind Boats

    So.  You’re wondering how this might be a state-of-the-art sensory-tastic STEMS activity (see, it just rolls off the tounge, right??!!)
     
    Here’s what we did to add a sensory oral motor component to this activity.  Use one of those bright and colorful straws
    to add a bit of wind power to your egg boats.  See how much breath it takes to move the boats across the water while providing proprioception to the mouth.  The heavy work of the lips is an effort that is calming to kiddos who seek out sensory input through chewing or biting.  
     
    Here is more information on the development of oral motor skills. Oral motor skills play a role in calming regulatory sensory input and also can be an issue in feeding.
     
    Have a few boat races with friends as you both blow the boats across a large bin of water. 
     
    Looking for more propriocetive input to the mouth?  Try a smaller straw or this top-secret Occupational Therapist trick:  pinch the straw so it’s flat the whole length of the straw.  Now you’ve got a power proprioception tool for oral sensory motor input! 

     

    Plastic egg boats with an oral sensory motor component for proprioception input to the mouth.
     
    Plastic egg boats with an oral sensory motor component for proprioception input to the mouth.
     
     

    What are your favorite ways to address oral motor sensory needs?  Let us know if you try these WORLD-CHANGING plastic Easter egg boats!  

    Spring Fine Motor Kit

    Score Fine Motor Tools and resources and help kids build the skills they need to thrive!

    Developing hand strength, dexterity, dexterity, precision skills, and eye-hand coordination skills that kids need for holding and writing with a pencil, coloring, and manipulating small objects in every day task doesn’t need to be difficult. The Spring Fine Motor Kit includes 100 pages of fine motor activities, worksheets, crafts, and more:

    Spring fine motor kit set of printable fine motor skills worksheets for kids.
    • Lacing cards
    • Sensory bin cards
    • Hole punch activities
    • Pencil control worksheets
    • Play dough mats
    • Write the Room cards
    • Modified paper
    • Sticker activities
    • MUCH MORE

    Click here to add this resource set to your therapy toolbox.

    Spring Fine Motor Kit
    Spring Fine Motor Kit: TONS of resources and tools to build stronger hands.

    Grab your copy of the Spring Fine Motor Kit and build coordination, strength, and endurance in fun and creative activities. Click here to add this resource set to your therapy toolbox.

    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 Stations Free Spring Printables

    Sensory stations free printables

    This sensory stations printable set is a free download you can print off and hang up as an easy sensory path. You may have seen sensory walks in school hallways, or outdoor sensory walks on sidewalks. Sensory paths can even be done at home as a DIY sensory activity. The reason why we are seeing so many of these sensory strategies in place? They are a great way to get kids motivated and moving to incorporate the sensory input and motor planning that kids need.

    Free printable sensory stations for a sensory path with a Spring theme

    What is a Sensory Path

    First, let’s talk about what a sensory path is. You’ve probably seen the videos of kids completing motor activities in a hallway or even on a sidewalk. There are typically several sensory stations, or sensory and movement-based activities that kids can do as they move through the sensory walk.

    A sensory walk (or a sensory path) is a fun and engaging series of movements and activities designed to incorporate the senses and movements. They are designed to promote motor skills so kids get the sensory input they need in order to focus, pay attention, regulate their sensory systems so they can learn and function along with their peers. They are a fun and engaging way to incorporate sensory diet tasks into the school or home environment.

    When kids move through the colorful path, they are challenged to hop, jump, skip, tip toe, turn, spin, push, etc. All of these movements incorporate gross motor skills and sensory systems of vision, vestibular, and proprioceptive senses. You can read more here about heavy work of gross motor skills and sensory processing.

    What are Sensory Stations?

    In a sensory hallway or sensory pathway, there are typically “stations” or different movement activities that challenge different sets of muscles or actions. You might see a station where kids move through the letters of the alphabet as they hop along ABC images. You might see a sensory station that asks kids to tip toe along a spiral path, or complete wall push-ups. You may see a hopscotch board on the floor with numbers, letters, colors, or even sight words.

    Other sensory paths stations for deep breathing exercises, animal walks, or figure 8 visual motor activities.

    There are sensory pathways that incorporate different themes into the sensory stations. The sky is the limit when it comes to coming up with movement-based activities within a sensory walk.

    All of these sensory stations offer an opportunity for the child to engage the senses in a particular movement or activity.

    Free sensory stations printables

    Today, as part of our Spring Week, I have a free printable set of sensory stations for you. These are PDF sheets with several different sensory station activities. Print them off, hang them in a hallway, classroom, or in the home to engage vestibular, proprioceptive, and visual senses.

    The sensory stations included in this free resource include a figure 8 deep breathing activity. Kids can trace along the figure 8 as they take in deep breaths and then breathe them out.

    The next sensory activity in this DIY sensory path is a frog hop activity. Kids can hop like a frog and engage proprioceptive input as they hop up and down. The printable is open-ended so you can ask kids to complete as many from hops as you like.

    Next, you’ll find a wall push-up activity. Kids can complete wall push-ups against the hand visuals and engage heavy work input through their upper body as a calming motor activity.

    Then, there is a jumping jack activity that engages the vestibular sense and gets kids active, moving their whole body, and working on coordination, motor planning, and symmetrical and asymmetrical movements gross motor movements.

    Finally, the sensory path printables includes a spiral deep breathing activity with a buzzing bee. Kids can trace along the spiral and take deep breaths in and out. This calming activity can re-set kids and help with relaxation.

    All of these sensory station activities are open-ended so you can ask kids to say the ABCs or count as they complete the tasks. You can also rearrange the order of the sensory walk tasks or omit some of the activities is you like.

    Printable Sensory Stations

    Want to add these sensory path stations to your therapy toolbox? Enter your email into the form below and you’ll receive them in your inbox. Enjoy and happy sensory path planning!

    FREE Printable Sensory Stations for a Sensory Path

      We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at anytime.

      Spring Fine Motor Kit

      Score Fine Motor Tools and resources and help kids build the skills they need to thrive!

      Developing hand strength, dexterity, dexterity, precision skills, and eye-hand coordination skills that kids need for holding and writing with a pencil, coloring, and manipulating small objects in every day task doesn’t need to be difficult. The Spring Fine Motor Kit includes 100 pages of fine motor activities, worksheets, crafts, and more:

      Spring fine motor kit set of printable fine motor skills worksheets for kids.
      • Lacing cards
      • Sensory bin cards
      • Hole punch activities
      • Pencil control worksheets
      • Play dough mats
      • Write the Room cards
      • Modified paper
      • Sticker activities
      • MUCH MORE

      Click here to add this resource set to your therapy toolbox.

      Spring Fine Motor Kit
      Spring Fine Motor Kit: TONS of resources and tools to build stronger hands.

      Grab your copy of the Spring Fine Motor Kit and build coordination, strength, and endurance in fun and creative activities. Click here to add this resource set to your therapy toolbox.

      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.

      Heavy Work in Teletherapy Slide Deck

      Spring heavy work activities for teletherapy

      Offering sensory, heavy work in teletherapy doesn’t need to be difficult. Wondering how to support sensory kids virtually? Need ideas to help with attention or focus in the classroom? This free teletherapy slide deck covers an area that is much needed for many children. We know that kids today need to move more. But did you know the part that heavy work plays into development and self-regulation strategies in kids?

      We see it all the time: kids in teletherapy or in the virtual classroom that just can’t sit still or pay attention. And there’s a lot going on when screens are involved. The research on screen time is telling. But other times, kids are just being kids and movement is needed! Brain breaks and movement breaks are as necessary as hydration and eating healthy meals when it comes to learning.

      What is Heavy Work?

      Heavy work is a sensory strategy that helps children regulate so they are at a calm-ready state of learning and participation in tasks. For kids, heavy work helps them know where their body is in space by using the proprioceptive sensory system.

      When deep heavy input is offered, the child challenges their proprioceptive system. Input in the child’s muscles and joints lets their brain know about body position, weight, pressure, stretch, movement and changes in position in space.  Then, the body is able to grade and coordinate movements based on the way muscles move, stretch, and contract. In this way, the proprioceptive system allows us to apply more or less pressure and force in a task.

      Proprioception and that heavy work input occurs when we lift, jump, pull, carry, hug, snuggle, crash, climb, push, etc. All of these movements incorporate the muscles and joints and offer “heavy work” input.
      Kids who may benefit from heavy work input might do some of these things:

      • Appear clumsy
      • Fidget when asked to sit quietly.
      • Show an increased activity level or arousal level.
      • Seek intense proprioceptive input by “crashing and bashing” into anything.
      • Slap their feet when walking.
      • Flap hands.
      • Use too much or too little force on pencils, scissors, objects, and people.
      • “No fear” when jumping or walking down stairs.
      • Or, are overly fearful of walking down steps/jumping.
      • Look at their body parts (hands/feet) when completing simple tasks.
      • Sit down too hard or miss chairs when sitting.
      • Fall out of their seat.
      • Fluctuates between over-reacting and under-reacting in response to stimulation.
      • Constantly on the move.

      Heavy work is a huge part of sensory diets that are created to help kids organize their sensory systems and regulate those sensory needs.

      Occupational therapists recommend heavy work to calm and help kids pay attention. And, if there were any time that heavy work was more needed, it might be during virtual learning.

      For more heavy work ideas that cover a variety of themes, grab a copy of the Heavy Work Movement cards.

      Spring activities that offer heavy work sensor input

      Heavy Work Teletherapy Activity

      So how do you incorporate heavy work and all the benefits of proprioceptive sensory input into a teletherapy or virtual learning environment?

      That’s where this heavy work virtual therapy slide deck comes into play. I created this slide deck as part of our free slides here on the site, as a support for therapists working with kids in virtual environments. We know that kids need movement to support learning and development of motor skills. They need to move and get that heavy work feedback so they can pay attention, focus, and learn.

      This heavy work activity does just that.

      Therapists (or teachers, or parents) can use this heavy work activity to help kids get the deep resistive input that they need.

      Kids can go through the slide deck and complete each activity. The slides use Spring images and concepts to incorporate proprioception and to offer FUN ways to add heavy work and help kids calm or regulate their sensory needs.

      Spring heavy work activities for teletherapy include crawling like a bear that is waking up from hibernation.

      Spring heavy work activities in the slide include:

      • Digging in dirt
      • Pushing a wheelbarrow
      • Crawling like a bear coming out of hibernation
      • Waddling like a duckling
      • MORE!

      Users can act out each heavy work activity on the slides and work on motor planning, coordination, bilateral coordination, gross motor skills, AND gain the benefits of heavy work input!

      Free heavy work slide deck

      Want this slide deck in your therapy toolbox? Enter your email address into the form below to access this free slide on your Google drive.

      Heavy Work Activities Slide Deck!

        We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at anytime.

        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.

        heavy work cards for regulation, attention, and themed brain breaks
        Heavy Work Movement Activity Cards

        Sensory Nature Walk for the Family

        Nature walk activities for sensory nature experiences for the whole family

        There are so many benefits to getting the whole family out for a family nature walk. Besides the physical exercise and family time, nature walks are powerful tools to incorporate all of the senses without any sensory equipment. Research tells us outdoor sensory play has many benefits. Use the sensory activities described here to learn and explore all of the senses (including the proprioceptive, vestibular, and interoceptive senses!) and add these sensory nature walk ideas to an outdoor sensory diet to help kids achieve an optimal sensory state so they can complete functional tasks and daily occupations.

        Nature walk ideas for sensory based family walks.

        Nature Walk Sensory Benefits

        A nature walk and all of its colors, sights, and sounds make for a multi-sensory experience that can be easily shared as a family.  There are so many sensory benefits when going on a nature walk or simply just by getting outdoors. The sensory input, learning and development, and simple family connection are just a few long-term benefits that can be provided by hiking in the woods.

        Nature walks promote wellness by meeting many different needs:

        • Physical exercise and physical activity
        • Relaxation
        • Establishment of healthy habits in kids
        • Emotional management
        • Mindfulness
        • Facilitate engagement and an alert state of regulation
        • Learning and cognitive benefits
        • Play and activity
        • Social interaction
        • Rest and sleep
        Sensory nature walk for families to explore the senses and support sensory needs.

        Sensory Nature Walk

        Stimulating the senses can help a child reconnect with their inner self, helping them identify how their body calms and relates to a free-flowing natural environment. Parents can help facilitate a child’s interaction in nature and the outdoors by simply being aware of a few activities that can be enjoyed as a family while experiencing the outdoors. Every sense can be utilized and engaged with a few fun ideas.

        To help get you started, take look at the sensory components of a nature walk:

        Nature Walks and the Visual Sense

        The visual (sight) sense can be stirred by the abundance of colors with the trees and leaves and don’t forget to take some time to seek out a few outdoor critters or insects which can add a little element of fun while observing.

        Try these visual processing activities during a family nature walk:

        • Play a game of I-Spy during your outdoor adventure. Think about playing using colors or items found in the environment. Take turns, and work on building vocabulary while playing this game.
        • Do a scavenger hunt and look for certain things found in the woods (you can find printable nature scavenger hunts on the internet).
        • Complete some nature rubbings with paper and crayons. Maybe rub some leaves within a notebook or complete rubbings of different types of tree bark.
        • Take a notebook and write down items you see in nature. It can be a nature journal that adds an opportunity to work on handwriting.

        Auditory Processing and Sensory Walks

        The auditory (hearing) sense can be jostled by the crunching of leaves under the feet as well as the snapping of twigs that can be heard while walking along a path or in the woods.

        • Snap twigs and listed to the cracks. Maybe even taking some time to build a few fun critter forts allowing for snapping of twigs to measure and build.
        • Also, try snapping twigs and building letters to add a little handwriting into the nature walk.
        • Listen for the birds and their chirping of songs and listen for some rustling of leaves when squirrels and other critters move about the woods.
        • Maybe the breeze is blowing, is it causing the trees and leaves to sway back and forth? Close your eyes and simply just listen to hear (it adds another fun element).

        Gustatory Sense and Family Walks

        The gustatory (taste) sense can be provided a little nudge, with adult supervision of course, if you find some wild blackberries or strawberries. They can be yummy to eat, but they do require cleaning so you may want to wait until you get back home to eat them so they can be properly cleaned for complete safety. If you are not that adventurous though, that’s okay you can still stimulate the gustatory sense on your walk if you work to prepare a fun trail mix before you leave the house so you can eat it on your outdoor adventure.

        • Bring a cold drink- A water bottle can be added to a backpack and brought along for a cold drink during a family walk. Remember the proprioceptive and oral motor benefits to drinking through a sports bottle, or a straw in a water bottle with a straw lid.
        • Nature walk snacks-Don’t have time to make trail mix, that’s okay too, you can just grab some granola or granola bars or maybe even some veggie sticks or beef jerky!

        Tactile Sensory Nature Walk

        The tactile (touch) sense can be heavily engaged with all of the different textures that can be explored and possibly gathered on your nature walk. Try some of these strategies on your nature walk:

        • Take some time to feel the leaves, moss, tree bark, rocks, dirt, and even a few fuzzy critters that can be given a little lift to their next destination.  
        • Tossing rocks into small streams or even walking through puddles of water could provide a multi-sensory experience.
        • Write a few letters in the dirt with use of broken twigs as a pencil.
        • Take some time to feel the warmth of the sun or the breeze on your face as you walk.  
        • Be sure to collect some nature items along the way though so you can explore them later either in a sensory bin or in an art project.
        • Find and count nature items in an egg carton.
        • Play toss and catch with pine cones as appropriate. Toss and catch to each other or have kiddos toss to themselves including back and forth between their left and right hands.
        • Stick nature items to contact paper while on a nature walk.

        Olfactory sense and family sensory walks

        The olfactory (smell) sense can be triggered by taking time to smell the dried leaves, flower scents, and even the smells that get blown as the wind or breeze lifts them through the air. Let’s face it, the wilderness has many smells that are unidentified and when mixed together create scents that are unusual kind of, musty. Even decaying wood has a very unique smell. Try these olfactory activities:

        • Smell flowers
        • Close your eyes and smell the air. Can you identify any scents?
        • Talk about scent words and the meaning of those terms. Some concepts to explore are: fresh, musty, moldy, sweet, sour, dry, etc.

        Proprioception and Nature Walks

        The proprioceptive (muscles and joints) sense can be impacted if you allow the child to lift heavy rocks, larger limbs and even just jump from higher elevations such as large rocks. All of the walking, climbing, and exploring adds heavy work input that tells the body where it is in space so the legs and body as a whole can move. Heavy work is a calming and regulating source of getting to a calm and alert state. Consider these opportunities for adding proprioceptive input on a nature walk:

        • Allow them to climb some trees and hillsides.
        • Explore trails with variations on elevation.
        • Consider the walking surface. Walking through a field, even trail, flat trail, or wooded hiking trail, or paved sidewalk offer different variants of heavy work though the legs and core.
        • Add hopping, jumping, bending, leaping, galloping, or skipping as you walk.
        • Even just the act of walking up and down the trail inclines can provide muscle and joint input that can be regulating for some kiddos.
        • Carrying water bottles in a backpack is an additional opportunity for heavy work.

        Nature walks and the Vestibular sense

        The vestibular (movement) sense can be activated as a child moves their body around the trees and rocks even while crawling up large rocks and trees. Incorporate vestibular input through these ideas:

        • Have them try some simple spinning with their eyes open and closed and arms outstretched to get a unique view of the outdoors maybe even doing some somersaults or cartwheels.
        • Allow them to try out their balance skills as they walk across a downed tree or along a trail of rocks.
        • Climb trees.
        • Run up hills.
        • Roll down grassy hills.

        Nature walks and interoception

        The interoception (inner body awareness) sense can be explored by the act of simply disconnecting from technology and other distractions and identifying how the body feels during this change of setting and heavy multi-sensory environment. An additional benefit of family walks is the connection to sleep (described more in detail at the bottom of this post.) Sleep has been noted to be included in the interoceptive processes much like hunger or thirst, as a brain process similar to other homeostatic processes.

        Incorporate interoception in nature with these strategies:

        • Work on identifying their feelings and bodily responses to the sensory input such as noticing their breathing, heart rate, temperature, or possibly if they feel either tired, hungry, or thirsty.
        • How do you feel? A walk can change how you’re feeling. Maybe you feel re-energized and more alert. Talk about it.
        • Mindfulness is impacted by nature. Take deep breaths. Can you feel your heart rate slowing down?
        • Thirst inventory- How do you feel after a hike in nature? Thirsty? Dry mouth? These are signs that your body is thirsty. Some people struggle with this internal awareness. Talk about the signs of thirst and how the body reacts to this need and then afterwards once you’ve got a drink.
        Nature walk activities for families to incorporate sensory systems.

        Nature Walk Activities

        A nature walk is a fun time to collect items from nature for exploring. While out on family walk, collect items from nature such as rocks, pebbles, sticks, leaves, moss, etc. These items can be placed into a backpack or bag and brought home to explore and create. (Be sure to return items to nature, afterwards as long as they are free from paint or glue.)

        After you’ve finished your outdoor adventure and you’ve collected some fun nature goodies from your walk, take those items home and create a sensory bin, fine motor craft kit, or maybe even use them in a fun art project. What can you collect?

        Look for some of these items (and explore the visual sense as you seek and find items):

        • Acorns
        • Twigs
        • Leaves
        • Rocks
        • Feathers
        • Pine needles
        • Pine cones
        • Moss
        • Seeds
        • Grasses
        • Sand
        • Dirt
        • Sunflower seeds
        • Fallen tree bark

        Nature Walk Sensory Bins

        Use these materials to make a sensory bin. Add the items you’ve collected to a large bin, basket, or tray. Now it’s time to explore! Try these nature sensory bin ideas:

        Nature Walk Art Projects

        The nature items collected on a family walk can be used to make art, too. Incorporate some added art supplies to get started:

        • Paint
        • Paint brush
        • Playdough
        • Beans/Peas
        • Glue
        • String
        • Paper/paste or cardboard
        • Googly eyes
        • Chenille stems
        • Egg cartons
        • Contact paper

        Then, try these nature art projects that help to develop motor skills, fine motor strength, coordination, motor planning, and more:

        Sensory Nature Walks and Rest

        An added benefit of incorporating a nature walk into the family routine is that walks in turn promote rest. All of the physical activity of nature walks may be helpful in encouraging rest and as a result, sleep.

        Additionally, research suggests a relationship between sleep difficulties and patterns of sensory processing issues in children.

        Studies show that sensory processing differences, considerably including increased sensory sensitivities, sensory-avoiding patterns, sensory-seeking patterns, and poor sensory registration have been associated with changes in sleep quality. (Vasek, M., Williamson, J., Garden, J., Zwicker, J., 2015).

        Occupational therapists play a role in sleep by offering tools and strategies to promote adequate and restful sleep. Because sleep is a necessary component of performing functional tasks and daily occupations, occupational therapists can assist with promoting adequate and healthy sleep by using evidence based methods, once of which can include physical activity such as family nature walks.

        A final note about sensory walks

        Take a seasonal nature walk to simply allow children to explore with their senses while building skills needed for learning and development! Allow children the freedom to explore at their own pace and to be creative. Give them the opportunity to come up with a fun, family activity outdoors. They’ll surprise you!

        Don’t live near a colorful hiking area? Take some time to visit a farm, a pumpkin patch, a flower garden, a cornfield, or even the beach. Really, just get outdoors and explore anywhere! By being outside away from technology and other distractions, children can rejuvenate their bodies and minds while stimulating their senses.

        Try these resources to incorporate the sensory system when in the great outdoors:

        Outdoor Sensory Diet Activities

        Outdoor Sensory Diet Activities in the Backyard

        Outdoor Recess Sensory Diet Activities

        Sensory Diet Activities at the Playground

        Sensory Processing at the Playground

        Add the Outdoor Sensory Diet Cards to your therapy toolbox:

        Create the “right kind” of sensory experiences to improve regulation, attention, focus, body awareness, motor development, and sensory processing.

        • 90 outdoor sensory diet activities
        • 60 outdoor recess sensory diet activities
        • 30 blank sensory diet cards, and 6 sensory challenge cards
        • They can be used based on preference and interest of the child, encouraging motivation and carryover, all while providing much-needed sensory input.
        Outdoor sensory diet cards

        References:

        Mark Vasak, James Williamson, Jennifer Garden, Jill G. Zwicker; Sensory Processing and Sleep in Typically Developing Infants and Toddlers. Am J Occup Ther 2015;69(4):6904220040. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2015.015891

        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!