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How To Improve Sensory Experiences In Your Child’s Daily Routine In Less Time

Posted on July 7, 2020 by All In

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Written by Velusamy Santhakumar (Senior Occupational Therapist, SPD)

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! Here are some ways that you can incorporate different sensory experiences in your child’s daily routine.

Shower Time

1. 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 your child to improve his/her 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.

2. Let your child 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 his/her head, belly, back, and toes before repeating the process.

Meal Time

1. Begin to introduce new foods at times other than main mealtimes. For example, 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.

2. If the item is wrapped in packaging, let your child grow comfortable looking at, touching, holding, opening, or unwrapping the item.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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.

Play Time

a) Play activities

Let your child:

1. Make different shapes/letters with playdough/multi-purpose flour.

2. Use coloured rice for art and crafts.

3. Use their hands to blend and squish different coloured paints together to form a new colour.

4. Write letters/numbers in the sand or shaving cream.

5. Find buttons of different shapes hidden in a small tub filled with aquarium rock/pasta.

b) At the playground

1. 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 their sense of balance, eye movement, and core muscle strength.

2. Slide: Letting your child play on slides with multiple bedways and climbers can help him or her 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.

3. 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.

References:

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



SPD is an All In Preferred Partner.

SPD is a charity in Singapore set up to help people with disabilities of all ages to maximise their potential and integrate them into mainstream society.

This guide was originally published by SPD and republished with minor editorial amendments by All In.

All content found on the All In website, has been created for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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