An Effective Sensory Diet For Your Homeschool and Your Life: Part One

 

Yay!  I finally have gotten a chance to sit down with the notes I took at a sensory modulation course I recently attended.  It was a lot of fun to have my thinking cap on for awhile, and I have some interesting things I want to share with you all.

A sensory diet just refers to the optimum sensory input a person needs to perform at his or her peak.  So, as you can imagine, this is of vast importance to educators at school and home alike (or it should be!)

A person who is good at modulating sensory input can take what is going on, filter out what is not important and focus on the things that are relevant.

Sometimes this can be a challenge for children (and adults alike). If your child’s behavior is reflecting something in the environment and they are spending all their energy on figuring out and reacting to  the environment, then there may not be a lot of attention left over for schoolwork!

Typically, children with difficulties with sensory input fall into two categories: one is that of the “over- reactor” to sensory input, who many times end up avoiding sensory stimuli that bothers them.    The other is children who “under- react” and may end up doing behavior that is seeking sensory input (so these are the children kind of jumping off the walls, literally) or they are so “under”, the child sort of sits there like a bump on a log.

There are many different websites out there that provide a checklist to see if a child has more things that seem like “over reacting” or “under reacting”, but I would just remind you these are simply checklists.  The only way to get an “official”  diagnosis is to go to your health care professional as there are specific standardized tests out there for assessment, and the best way to get “treated” would be to have an individualized sensory diet designed by a qualified therapist.  However, I do think there are many common sense kinds of things that can be done, especially in the home environment, to make sure children are ready to receive information.

In our next post, I will be taking a peek at the child who is an “over-reactor” to sensory stimuli.

Here are also a few books I recommend on the subject:

Biel and Peske’s “Raising A Sensory Smart Child”

Sharon Heller’s “Too loud, Too bright, Too fast, Too tight”

Carol Kranowitz’s “The Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun”

And for those of you interested in a classic work on sensory integration, Jean A Ayers’ “Sensory Integration and the Child.”

Many blessings,

Carrie

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6 thoughts on “An Effective Sensory Diet For Your Homeschool and Your Life: Part One

  1. I’m excited to read more! My daughter (2.5 years old) sees an OT for sensory integration issues (she’s a sensory seeker!). She was recently diagnosed to be on the autism spectrum (PDD-NOS) but they say she is very mild…I’m thinking it is more sensory issues than anything. We’ve made a tire swing in our basement and a hammock swing; and we also use a “rollie board” for her to lie on her belly while we pull her. She also does lots of other little things through the day; but I’m interested on what other things we could be doing that are a bit more “natural” and integrated into her play. (for instance, we started taking “hikes” in the woods where she really has to stomp around to maintain her balance and get sensory input through her feet and legs). I’m thirsty for more ideas that are movement based, that’s for sure! (perhaps integrating special movements and music? hmmm)

    • Megan,
      You will be reading more soon, but in the meantime I would like to leave you with two brief thoughts: please do seek out the post on here about meaningful work for toddlers – heavy work is the BEST sensory modulation tool we have, and then RHYTHM. In breath, out breath.

      More soon, many blessings,
      Carrie

    • I’ve been a big fan of that post! I’ve been working on coming up with meaningful activities and it’s going well so far. Slow going, though, since she’s only just turning 2.5 years, her coordination doesn’t allow for the best input as of yet. But, she gets a lot of sensory “bang for the buck” by pushing the loaded laundry basket full of folded clothes all around for me. :) And she now has the joy of operating the hand-crank apple peeler we have. She enjoys peeling her own apple now…baby steps!

  2. Carrie, I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts, our experience working with our occupational therapist who has supported our 4 kiddos is what led us into Waldorf homeschooling…we still are learning but again and again we find what is so intrinsic in the educational approach of Steiner addresses these sensory needs. When things get intense with them and their seeking/avoidance behaviors get really amplified I can always see where we have gotten away from a strong rhythm and away from age appropriate work/lessons.

    As always thank you for sharing your thoughts/experiences.
    -MaggieAnnie

  3. Thank you Carrie! This is definitely a subject that so many people need to hear. If it wasn’t for someone very close to me I would not have realized my son had Sensory Processing Disorder when he was 2 and we were able to intervene early with Occupational Therapy and lots of home work to help his body work with his environment! 4 years later all is well, we have a platform swing in our house and still get at least 15 minutes a day in, and that keeps him “in sync”.
    Also if it wasn’t for the book “The Out of Sync Child” I don’t think I could have ever fully understood what my son was going through.
    Thank you again for putting this information out there!

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