During the past year Occupational Therapy has provided services to 434 children in our region both preschool and school age. We provided services in a variety of ways including in person, groups and virtually. Currently we have five therapists working at the CDC. Jody Edamura, Sam Hart Johnson, Thandi Nell, Sam Thew and Pat Hamilton.
One of the areas that we received many referrals, was children who have difficulties with Sensory Processing. The following are some strategies that may help your child to self regulate.
Fun Sensory Strategies for the Home or Preschool
The following strategies will assist children to increase their attention and ability to calm and organize their body:
- Play dough: encourage rolling and pounding and manipulation (i.e. deep pressure); you can also experiment with clay (firmer, more effect if the child can manage this texture)
- Pounding activities: hammer golf tees into Styrofoam with a plastic hammer; pound clay or play dough and then use cookie presses
- Therapy band exercises and games: row, row, row your boat (tie band together); tug of war; horsey – where you loop the band around the child’s waist or chest and the child ‘runs’ away from you while the adult gently resists and tries to reign in the ‘horse’/ child; reach for the——(stars on a chart on the wall or knocks down stacking blocks while holding and stretching the therapy band to do so, etc)
- Blowing bubbles and popping them with hands and feet; blow cotton balls across a table with a straw, make it a race with the adult participating
- Hopping activities on floor or from heights (on and off a bench or single step); stomping activities-place stickers on the floor and squish the —-(bug or star, etc)
- Jump and hit the —-sticker or item on the wall that is located higher than the child’s head; the adult will need to slow down this activity to encourage accuracy and a rhythmical, and more calming approach (on the count of 3, hit the —-)
- Squat & squish/ hold a balloon or ball against the wall with the back, may want to have an activity/ game present as well to distract the child from the effort or work he is doing to maintain this position
- Finger pulls, chair or wall push-ups (heavy work) push hard to wake up your muscles
- Push a weighted box/ laundry basket across the floor; make it into a race, game or obstacle course
- Try doing activities where the child is on the tummy– forearms are propped on the floor (deep pressure through the shoulders); you can create this position over a larger ball if one is available
- Animal walks (commando crawl, snake, bear, frog)
- Bum up and down the stairs or commando crawl up and down the stairs
- Body squish: make a hotdog where the child is the hotdog and an exercise mat is the bun or child lays on the back and firmly, but gently press folded knees/ legs downwards towards the chest
- Child lays on his or her back, bends knees and presses feet against the wall. Have the child push with both feet and rocket off of the wall (do count downs to slow the activity). May have a sticker on the wall that the child pushes against or squashes.
Please note all of these activities can become exciting versus calming and organizing if they are not supervised and presented in a structured manner. It is beneficial to add a ‘count- down’ to activities to initiate the start, frequency or end of an activity. This helps the child have a more even and rhythmical pace and helps prevent the child from becoming too excited and busy. If you need more activities to explore or modify, please contact an occupational therapist at the Child Development Centre