As adults, we have unique ways of self-regulation to cope with stressors in our day-to-day life. A cup of coffee may be the perfect start to your day or listening to your favourite tunes may make you feel better. Similarly, children need to experience different sensory activities to regulate themselves too! SPD’s senior occupational therapist, Velusamy Santhakumar, shares some ways that you can incorporate different sensory experiences in your child’s daily routine.
- If you have a bathtub at home, you can place alphabet blocks in the bathtub and let your child “swim” around to find letters of his/her name. Alternatively, you can have a mini treasure hunt with your child by letting him/her look for items like coins or sea creatures at the bottom of a pail or tub. This will help them to improve their fine motor skills such as peeling, pinching, and grasping. Ensure that your child is supervised at all times when playing in a tub or with a pail.
- Let your kids fill up empty bottles with water during shower time by pushing the bottles under the water in a pail or tub. Then gently pour the water on their heads, bellies, backs, and toes before repeating the process.
- Begin to introduce new foods at times other than main mealtimes. E.g. during pretend play, you can get your child to feed their toys like miniature figures/play with toy food or cut out pictures of food items from magazines.
- If the item is wrapped in packaging, let your child grow comfortable looking at, touching, holding, opening, or unwrapping the item.
- When your child has become more familiar with the food item, , place the actual food item on the table where your child sits during mealtime. It helps to familiarise your child with the sight and smell of the new food.
- As the child gets used to the presence of the new food on the table, bring the food closer to his/her plate without making him/her try the food.
- You may increase the child’s food tolerance by having him/her touch the food. Alternatively, hold the food near his/her face, cheeks, chin, nose, and lastly the lips. You may even get your child to hold the food near his/her face or kiss it.
- If the child is fine with having the food touch his/her lips, you can get him/her to put the item inside his/her mouth. The child can start by licking the food, before biting it, and holding it in the mouth for a few seconds and spitting it out.
- Do bear in mind that as these stages are taking place, your child is still able to eat his/her regular preferred meals during usual mealtimes.
a) Play activities
- Make different shapes/letters by using playdough/ multi-purpose flour.
- Use coloured rice for art and craft.
- Squishy bag: Kids use their hands to blend and squish the different coloured paints together to form a new colour.
- Write letters/numbers in the sand or shaving cream.
- Hide buttons of different shapes in a small tub filled with aquarium rock/pasta and ask the child to find the buttons.
b) At the playground
|Accessible Swing: Playing on swings can help children recognize that their movements affect their speed, the timing of the activity, as well as body movements. It also stimulates your child’s sense of balance, eye movement, and core muscle strength.||
|Slide: Letting your child play on slides with multiple bedways and climbers can help them sense movement and speed as well as develop physical skills and muscle tone, along with problem solving and memory, by visualizing where and how to position their body.
|Vertical Climber: Climbing helps children to improve their fine and gross motor skills as well as enhance their spatial awareness, coordination, and body management skills.
Smith, G. (2013, March). Establishing Successful Mealtime Routines. Retrieved February 20, 2020, from http://www.weinfeldeducationgroup.com/uploads/6/5/5/4/6554000/establishing_successful_mealtime_routines.pdf
Allah, A. (2017, March). How to: Incorporate Sensory Play into Your Child’s Every Day. Retrieved February 20, 2020, from https://www.tgclb.org/how-to/how-to-incorporate-sensory-play-into-your-childs-every-day/
The Center for Autism & Related Disabilities (CARD). Practical Strategies for Feeding Aversions in Children with Autism. Retrieved February 20, 2020, from http://card-usf.fmhi.usf.edu/resources/materials/docs/CARD_FeedingAversionsBrochure_FINAL-HR.PDF
Garcia, A. S., Aldekhel, Z. A., Dev, D. A., Foged, J. J., & Kunz, G. M. (2017, May). Enhancing Mealtimes for Children with Autism: Feeding Challenges and Strategies. Nebraska Extension, (G2285). Retrieved February 20, 2020 from http://extensionpublications.unl.edu/assets/html/g2285/build/g2285.htm