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Home > General Information, Links, and Resources > Sensory Management Resources

Sensory Management Resources

Great resource for tactile play:

Sensory Management & Functional Activity Resource for those with SEVERE SENSORY AVERSIONS 

Purpose of Sensory Management Program: To provide individuals with appropriate sensory diet with functional activities to ensure that they are receiving optimal amounts of sensory input through tactile, vestibular, proprioceptive, auditory, and visual activities.

When & Where: Sensory opportunities should be given as often as possible throughout an individuals day and in various positions and environments. Sensory opportunities can be combined with functional activities to increase learning.

*** Stop if there are signs of distress (change in face coloring, sweating, nausea or vomiting, respiration changes, drowsiness, disorientation, tremors, seizures, changes in behavior).

1. Vestibular Activities: Arise from the vestibular apparatus in each inner ear, tells the brain that we are moving, something else is moving. Registers the pull of gravity to know where down is. With 15 minutes of good input lasts app.4-8 HRS.

  • Swinging from suspended equipment (net swing, hammock, platform swing) beginning with linear direction in a smooth, controlled movement then stop before switching direction of the swing to angular .Even rocking chairs or outdoor swings are great, but swinging from a single point is best!
  • Rolling from side to side with staff holding at shoulder and hips. The individual can be wrapped in a blanket during rolling to help calm them, reduce protective responses of the brain, reduce stress chemicals, and decreases tone. Deep pressure can be given when rolling to the shoulder and hip.
  • Scooter Board activities, even if it is just in a small space moving back and forth and side to side.
  • Imitating head movements dancing, circle time motions to the music
  • Riding in moving equipment riding toys, Rody pony, therapy balls, pull in a wagon, tricycle

**These activities are listed from the best for vestibular input to the least amount, yet it is important to give various types of sensory input throughout the day. All activities should be done for 10-15 minutes at least and followed with some of the following sensory input to be effective.

2. Proprioceptive input: Very calming sensation, good to give even if unable to precede with vestibular sensations. Input lasts for up to 2 hours in the body if given for 20 minutes.

  • Weight Bearing activities: Prone on forearms (proprioceptive input to elbows and shoulders, as well as knees and hips), leaning onto elbows or hands, and shifting weight onto major joints while in sidelying are all excellent positions for proprioceptive input. Rolling from side to side is great for mild vestibular input and proprioceptive combined. Joint Compressions are great!
  • Creeping (on all fours) on the floor, through tunnels, over an air mattress. Rocking to a beat on an air mattress, crawling over pillows and through obstacle courses.
  • Elevating functional activities (such as favorite games/activities) to a higher level or on the opposite side that someone likes to reach can promote proprioceptive input by reaching, stretching, and elongating ligaments and tendons to the joints. Wearing wrist and ankle weights while doing this.
  • Pushing or Pulling activities. Any type of tug of war, obstacle courses, weighted balls, carrying heavy objects, pushing heavy objects, or pushing a weighted swing,  Pushing off hands over therapy ball, pushing a basket of toys, pushing a push toy with extra weight, pushing boxes.
  • Wheelbarrow walking! Backpacks with weight or books in them, weighted vests, squeezing.
  • Scooter boards are great to give proprioceptive feedback to the upper extremities and hips.
  • Vibration toys are great especially if they vibrate at a cycle of less than 100Hz (look on the massager or when ordering ask for the Hz value.) Do not give vibration over the bones or spastic muscles, or the neck area, yet if the individual gives themselves the vibratory input then they can regulate what they want except for the neck region.

*Gymnastics, karate, and jungle gyms are awesome!

3. Tactile Activities: Pressure Touch or Deep touch is always better than light touch!!!

  • Organic non-scented lotions: Rub deeply and with firm pressure. Ideal to do after bathing and pool activities. Unscented is best to start with to make sure that the olfactory sensation is not too overwhelming, yet if they enjoy a particular sensation then use it to stimulate olfactory senses.
  • HUGS!!! Give good bear hugs throughout the day and teach child to say "hug" or "squeeze"
  • Swimming or any water play is a great sensory motor activity!
  • Slowly stroking down extremities, back, or head in a soothing fashion, massage and stroke hands.
  • Pressure massage on hands, feet and back
  • Wrapping into blankets and rocking to calm 
  • Snuggling with pillows, bean bags, or stuffed animals and squeeze them into their body.
  • Sandwich games: while laying on mat or in bed press mats or bean bags on top of them and play the sandwich game- make it fun by talking about what kind of sandwich to be, etc.
  • Games that involve touching body parts with firm pressure : example hokey pokey and tell which body part you are touching and use their arm to touch their other arm, hand, chest, etc.
  • Retrieving objects or just putting hands in various textures such as Soapfoam, playdoe, beans, rice, sand, water (use various temperature starting with luke warm to faucet temp. cold), rough and smooth objects, and liquids such as finger paints shaving cream, hair gels, dog chew toys, pudding, cheeze whiz, glue, or flour and water combinations. Use hand over hand assistance with deep pressure to ensure that they enjoy the input and encourage making shapes and letters with hands or isolated digit, scoop and pour with cups and shovels, find hidden objects, GET MESSY!
  • Fill ziplock bags with various textures as stated above and press hand or fingers into the bag to draw shapes or hold if they cannot tolerate the texture on their hands or body.
  • Fill up a small bucket with these textures or kiddie pool and pour over body daily, let the child play in textures all over their body, using a kiddie pool or bathtub is great, minimal clothing.
  • Using an adjustable shower head to give various pressures all over the body during bathtime.. Hand mitts or brushes are great at this time too to give deep pressure and various tactile input to the body. Teach body awareness and name body parts in the tub. Squeeze and roll in the towel after.
  • Visual and auditory sensations can be combined with any of these activities. If an individual is over aroused and upset it is best to give only one sensation such as deep pressure and avoid too much sensory stimulus at once.
  • GREAT ONLINE home DIY ideas go here:

** It is important to try and give individuals sensations in this order :

  1. Vestibular (at least 15 minutes daily, best if done every two hours as well)
  2. Proprioceptive (20 minutes every 2 hours)
  3. Tactile/ Deep Pressure ( as needed and as often as possible to calm)
  4. Tactile - various input (start slowly and after you have given lots of 1-3)
  5. Combination of these with visual and auditory and olfaction

* It is best to increase opportunities for sensory input gradually and always be adaptive and inventive, almost any activity can have some of these components and be "sensory" and be sure to always try things several times, don't give up on the first try if they don't like it. Wait a while and try, try again, it may just be that their sensory system isn't ready for the new input yet, and later, after good doses of input, they will be able to enjoy it and then learn from it.

No learning can occur if our body & mind is not ready for it or if we are stressed in any way!

** All of these activities do not meet every individuals needs, but adapting activities and giving various opportunities is the main goal for a life full of sensory opportunities.

Please try to follow the guidelines of a therapist!


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