Thursday, January 22, 2009

Joy's Sensory Regulation Activities

In a super-secret yet eminently accessible place (by the cookbooks, but don't tell anyone!) live the Barista Binders -- two informational & record-keeping binders used by the intensive autism therapy staff from Agency 2. Schedule, hours, treatment goals, daily data-sheets, team meeting notes, it's all there.

Also in those binders are listed some suggested activities and tools for sensory regulation, which make up a substantial component of each session. Another term for this would be "sensory diet." Here are some of the favorites for Joy's toolkit/menu:

Heavy Work - Body
  • tunnel crawling

  • foot pushes

  • snow play

  • push & pull loaded crate or laundry basket

  • stair climbing

  • weighted vest

  • ankle weights

  • weighted blanket

Hand Work & Fidgets
  • play doh

  • Insta-Snow

  • bucket-o-beans (last resort, it's an addictive activity!)

Deep Pressure
  • crash pillow

  • pillow squishes

  • bear hugs

  • crash on couch

  • head squeezes

  • Joy burrito (wrap & squish in a blanket, she also gets the work of wriggling free)

  • songs with movement ("Row Your Boat" is a big fave right now)

  • jumping (if you hold her hands or under her arms, Joy can jump to the moon!)

  • trampoline

  • blanket rides

  • blanket swing

  • running/chase ("I'm gonna get you!")

  • tickles

Oral Motor
  • chewy toys

  • drink from crazy-straw sippy

Things could be categorized in other ways (is jumping movement or heavy work? Yes!) but you get the idea.

I had one of the line therapists tell me last night something along the lines of "When we start the session with some jumping, it helps so much."

What are some of the favorites at your house, if this is part of your life too?


Quirky Mom said...

We do not currently have a sensory diet or toolkit, but I think we need one. This is a great resource. Thanks!

pixiemama said...

We do a lot of "heavy work" and, in the past had to use a lot of deep pressure techniques to help Foster regulate. (Oral motor was a no-brainer for him - he always had something in his mouth for the first few years of his life, including a variety of toys and, of course, his entire hand).

One variation on one of your heavy work jobs - if Joy is strong enough to push Rose in the basket... it's social. This was one of the very first ways we introduced "playing with" someone, as opposed to playing beside someone (something about two boys, only 18 months apart in age, playing trains - parallel play was easily accepted for a LONG time). Of course, we have hardwood floors, so it was easy for Foster to push Reilly a few feet at a time. It was HARD WORK, though.

Keep a close eye on those books - you are going to need them to "teach" the people who come into Joy's life. They're going to need access to your bag of tricks.

Anonymous said...

kenz is a jumper .. she LOVES impact! she spends countless hours jumping off her bed onto the floor (makes me cringe every time) or from one couch to another.

At school, a perceptive speech therapist noticed that if she let her get up and jump periodically she was able to attend much better throughout their session.

the amazing part is, this is a kid who COULDN'T jump less than a year ago. wooo hoo!

Anonymous said...

We've been using a pressure vest (can't remember if I told you this) during Rhema's weekend sessions. Got it from We also play a game where we swing her(one at the feet, one holding her under the arms) and throw her on the couch, followed by tickles. She loves it and we always get language out of it.

I've used the term sensory diet with people not-in-the-know and they always think I'm talking about food!

Anonymous said...

I didn't see tobagganing (sp?) or riding on the sled in your list....

Some really nice things occur when a child slides downhill - all the postural muscles are activated to hold her upright in sitting. If she is holding on - grip/hand muscles are being used. Plus, she gets the sensation of movement (vestibular) and her eyes have to adjust with the movement, too.


JoyMama said...

Quirky Mom - hope it helps. I should perhaps reiterate that this is just Joy's particular list -- there are plenty of other things that we haven't tried, or don't match her particular needs, or are still too advanced for her. Here's a link to a longer list!

Pixiemama - nice thought about the laundry basket. We have hardwood too, and a nice back hallway for a good long push... must try that.

JessWilson - three cheers for Kenz and the jumping!

RhemasHope - thank you SO much for the link. We were in discussion about a pressure-vest with Joy's previous OT this fall, but then she was suddenly taken off our team and the idea dropped away as we got acquainted with the new OT and her contributions. That looks much more affordable than we were expecting! Woo hoo!

Therextras/BRatK - Were you spying on us somehow yesterday? LOL. We used the sled to get Rose to school (again! see Sled Envy post a few entries back), and Joy was SO into it that she didn't want to get out when she and I got home! She had sled-play with her afternoon-shift House Blend barista too. I will go add it to the list. Great catch!

Anonymous said...

I might also point out that many of the items needed for Joy's "sensory diet" make great gift suggestions for loving aunties and other family members! LOL! I had no idea what InstaSnow was until shopping for holiday gifts for Joy and Rose. And, going back a couple years, I also had the fun of picking out a tunnel for Joy's birthday and then getting to play with it with her. So, you can certainly encourage relatives to purchase some of these items for your kids, which helps defray some of the costs for you and educates family about your child's needs too! (Of course, JoyMama is always so organized that she gives a detailed list of suggestions complete with links to websites to view and order items! Thanks, JoyMama!)

Anonymous said...

Naah. I just think we have come cosmic invisible spiritual connection. lol.