Finding ideas of sensory activities for a young child is pretty easy because there are so many resources out there. However, many of these activities are not appropriate for an older child, teenager or adult. As a speech language pathologist, I have worked with teenagers and young adults for years who have both sensory processing disorders and other developmental disabilities.
These activities are being suggested from my perspective as a speech language pathologist, so please consult with an occupational therapist regarding these activities so that they can tailored towards your child if appropriate.
Most of these activities are easy to do and can be incorporated into any daily schedule.
1. Have your child carry a stress ball, fidget toy, etc. These can be found in many stores including toy stores, online or even in a local stationary store.
2. Take a ride. For many people diagnosed with SPD and other disabilities, riding in a car, van or another form of transportation can be calming. A client that I work will often ask to ride in the van because the vibration and movement of the vehicle helps him feel calm.
3. Engage in heavy work. This can mean helping around the house including laundry, taking out the garbage, gardening, etc.
4. Take short walks to help calm the system.
5. Create a safe location that is ideal for calming and regulating the system. This location should ideally have less light and few distractions. This can be a small room or a “tent like” structure within a room. I have seen adults who will flee to a dark bathroom, closets, etc to seek this safe location.
6. Listen to relaxing music wearing headphones. This can include classical music, a program such as MeMoves or any music that can help regulate the system.
7. Get involved in an art project. For many children living with SPD, art can be an excellent outlet. For a sensory seeking individual, working with clay and a pottery wheel can be extremely therapeutic.
8. Get involved in cooking! To learn how cooking can be a sensory experience, click here.
9. Create a sensory conscious snack or meal (have a variety of textures and flavors). Chewing gum can also be effective depending on the situation. I currently work with a sensory seeking individual who eats a lunch with no variety of texture or taste on a daily basis. He is constantly craving food with various textures. Adding complexity of taste and texture to a snack or meal can help wake up the system.
10. Get moving! This can mean engaging in a sport or exercise that feels calm and controlled. For some individuals, it can be running and for others it can be yoga or something more aerobic such as Jazzercise.
Suggested Extension Activity: Read a book and/or article about adults who has been diagnosed with a SPD such as Growing Up with Sensory Issues. This thoughtful book is written by an adult who has both autism and a SPD. The books provides the reader insider tips on how to understand and interact with an overwhelming world.
I also wanted to share an article from Sensory Focus Magazine titled the Out of Sync Child Grows Up. This article written by Carol Kranowitz takes your through the lives of adults who have shared their own experiences with their sensory processing disorders. To read this article click here . To learn more about getting a subscription to Sensory Focus Magazine, click here.
If you are interested in purchasing a discounted copy of Growing Up with Sensory Issues from Future Horizons (15% off and free shipping), use the discount code GRAVITY here.