Sensory Play There are all sorts of ways to playfully help your child with his
sensory problems. Here are a few activities that may help:
We got shoebox-sized plastic containers and filled them up with things like pasta,
rice, oatmeal, beans, etc. In the pasta container, we put all different
kinds of pasta, spiral pasta, macaroni noodles, ziti noodles, etc. In each container,
we keep some plastic spoons and plastic measuring cups for scooping and sifting.
The oatmel and rice can get pretty messy. We play with this outside or
on a sheet on the floor.
Play with sand.
Fingerpaint. You can use the typical paint at the store, or you can use
pudding, yogurt, etc. I can't give you a lot of advice about this activity,
because we still can't get Xander to do it.
Clay Play. Play with clay or Play-Doh. Let your child squish and squeeze and cover his hands.
Be sure to have a wet rag handy, if your child gets upset if things stick to his hands.
Give your child a gentle massage. Massage his head if he has trouble
getting his hair brushed or washed.
Let your child play in a kid pool, the bathtub or an adult pool (with supervision!).
Or let him take a container of water outside. Or let him help you wash
Give your child a shave with whipped cream and a spoon.
In addition to tactile defensiveness, Xander has many other sensory issues. He really craves certain movements and touches. To give him all the sensory input he needs, we use many different techniques. The ones that have worked the best are horseback riding (we do this through a therapeutic riding program for children with disabities), swinging, swimming, and massaging. While massaging Xander, I experiment with different types of touching to see what he likes best. He loves the deep pressure and squeezing methods the most. I squeeze his face and his head, which he likes. The squeezing even calms some of his tantrums!
We usually use a surgeon's scrub brush for this, but we vary it sometimes
with other scrub brushes that you use in the shower. Work with different types until
you find the one that works best for your child.
Brush the arms, legs and back going in the same direction as the hair on the arms and legs.
Brush downward on the back. Brush in one direction only. Begin with very
gentle pressure and press harder until you find the pressure your child
likes best. Xander loves firm pressure. The harder we press the brush, the better.
We also brush Xander's feet, because he walks on his tiptoes all the time.
Brush for about two minutes. When you're done brushing, do deep compressions at the joints. For example,
at the elbow joint, you would take both sides of the arm and gently, but firmly, press them together.
I end with a deep full-body hug.
Brush your child as often as you can. An ideal amount of brushing is once
every two hours.