Occupational Therapy - Sensory System

Summer Sensory Development

As the school year ends, it’s important to continue fostering sensory experiences for our children over the summer. Sensory processing opportunities are abundant during this time, offering unique chances for our elementary and middle school students to explore, learn and develop in fun and engaging ways. By incorporating sensory experiences into your child’s summer routine, you can help promote their sensory development, regulate their nervous system and ensure a summer filled with exploration, growth and joy. 

1. Outdoor Adventures: Encourage your child to explore the great outdoors! Nature provides an array of sensory experiences such as feeling different textures like grass, sand and rocks under their feet, hearing the sounds of birds chirping and leaves rustling in the wind, and experiencing the varying temperatures and smells of the environment. Take trips to parks, beaches and hiking trails to immerse your child in these sensory-rich experiences. 

2. Water Play: Water play is not only refreshing but also an excellent sensory activity. Whether it’s swimming, playing in a sprinkler or simply splashing in a kiddie 

pool, water activities provide opportunities for tactile, proprioceptive, and vestibular input. Water play can help regulate your child’s sensory system and promote relaxation and fun at the same time. 

3. Sensory-Friendly Events: Look out for sensory-friendly events in your community. Many local organizations and businesses host sensory-friendly movie screenings, museum days and other activities designed specifically for children with sensory processing differences. These events often feature reduced lighting and noise levels, providing a comfortable environment for children who may be sensitive to sensory stimuli. 

4. Gardening and Planting: Engage your child in gardening activities to stimulate their senses and foster a connection with nature. Planting seeds, watering plants and harvesting fruits and vegetables provide opportunities for tactile exploration, visual stimulation, and olfactory experiences. Gardening also promotes fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and a sense of responsibility. 

5. Sensory-Friendly Crafts: Get creative with sensory-friendly crafts that engage multiple senses. Activities such as finger painting, playing with kinetic sand and making DIY sensory bottles allow children to explore different textures, colors and materials while enhancing their fine motor skills and creativity. Pinterest and educational websites offer a plethora of ideas for sensory-friendly crafts suitable for all ages. 

Summer Sensory Activities Archives - The Chaos and the Clutter 

The Holiday Season and the Sensory System 

The holidays are upon us. This season brings with it an abundance of sensory input. The lights, the smell and taste of unfamiliar food, the hugs from relatives and friends, the sounds of holiday songs or the many voices of large gatherings may be a part of your holiday traditions. Some of these sensory experiences are welcome, some are tolerable, and some go so far as to send a sensitive sensory system into overload. At the point of sensory overload, some children may overreact, and some may shut down. It is difficult for a child to regulate his/her responses to sensory input especially during times when there are changes in typical family routines.  

If new foods can be difficult, prepare a trial meal so Thanksgiving dinner will not be the first time your child is exposed to the smells and tastes of the meal. 

If lights, sounds and touch can be difficult, there are some things you can do to prepare your child. Plan time in a sensory limited environment. For example, resting in a quiet, dark room with a weighted blanket. This can help by decreasing all forms of sensory input which will help to regulate the sensory system. You may want to do this before the gathering. It can also be helpful after all the fun, to help your child return to a place of calm.

 Making a plan with your child on how to take a break during a holiday gathering can also be helpful. Let them know if they need a break, to ask and you will be able to help them find a quiet place to settle their sensory system.  For more information about the sensory system, watch this short video. What is Sensory Processing?