Sensory Diets

Sensory diets are schedules of sensory activities throughout the day to help individuals modulate sensory defensiveness. Powerful sensory input can last between 90 and 120 minutes. The most powerful sensory activities use rhythmic, liner motion, deep pressure, and heavy work and proprioception. If possible, introduce age appropriate leisure activities that provide sensory input such as contact sports, gymnastics, or martial arts.

Proprioception is the sense of where the body is in space including the orientation of limbs both when stationary and during movement. Proprioception is related to body awareness, which involves the sense of where the body is in relation to the environment. A strong proprioceptive strength promotes coordination in motor activities and helps you to move smoothly through your environment. Decreased proprioception and body awareness can result in children appearing clumsy and uncoordinated and often leads to difficulty performing unfamiliar motor tasks.

Heavy work, deep pressure, and resistive activities can activate and strengthen the proprioceptive sense. These activities provide provide input into receptors in our muscles, which gives us information as to where our bodies are in space. These activities can also have a general calming affect on a child to help him focus and attend to an activity.

Modifying Environments and Interactions
  • Use a quieter, slower, and low tone
  • Avoid light and unexpected touch - hug, don’t tickle
  • Limit the use of strong scents in perfumes, candles, or sprays
  • Don’t demand eye contact. Eye contact can by physiologically disruptive
  • Move or pick up children slowly and smoothly
  • Be predictable
  • Reduce disruptive and disorganizing stimuli in the environment
  • Provide safe ways to access sensory stimuli including access to deep pressure, heavy work, movement, proprioception, neutral warmth, and oral motor input.
  • Create schedules and routines to add predictability to the day

Activities selected for sensory diets should reflect the interests of the individual. For children, activities usually involve play and leisure activities. For adults, sensory activities often include workout routines.