Children with sensory regulation issues may encounter hurdles as they go about their daily routines. These challenges, ranging from trouble concentrating in class to finding social interactions overwhelming, can have a notable effect on their general well-being, growth, and tranquility. Nonetheless, by incorporating strategies to cultivate a sensory-balanced lifestyle, caregivers can offer the necessary support for these children to flourish.

What is Sensory Regulation?

Sensory regulation is the process that allows children to manage and respond to the various sensory inputs they experience in their environment. It involves everything from processing what they see, hear, taste, and smell to understanding their own sensations and movements. When children can regulate these sensory experiences effectively, it means they can better adapt and enjoy the environment around them. 

How Do Sensory Activities Play a Role in Helping Regulation?

Various activities are essential for supporting sensory regulation and promoting overall development in children. These activities, whether they involve tactile or vestibular sensations, are designed to offer controlled and therapeutic sensory input. They help children become more in tune with their senses and better able to manage their responses. However, sensory activities provide more than just sensory input; they also contribute to:

Fine and Gross Motor Skills: Engaging in sensory play, such as digging in a sensory bin or squeezing playdough, helps children develop both fine and gross motor skills as they manipulate objects and explore different textures.

Language Development: Sensory activities provide opportunities for language development as children describe what they see, feel, hear, and smell. Through conversations and interactions during sensory play, children expand their vocabulary and improve their communication skills.

Cognitive Development: Sensory activities stimulate cognitive development by encouraging problem-solving, exploration, and experimentation. Whether they’re building structures with blocks or navigating a maze, children engage in activities that challenge their cognitive abilities and foster critical thinking skills.

How Do I Incorporate Sensory Experiences into Daily Life?

Creating a sensory-balanced lifestyle involves incorporating sensory experiences into different parts of a child’s daily routine. This includes:

Mealtime: Sensory experiences extend to food, making mealtime an opportunity to support sensory regulation. Introducing children to a variety of textures, flavors, and smells can help expand their palate and decrease food aversions often associated with sensory issues. This can have a profound impact on creating a well-designed sensory diet. 

Playtime: Incorporate sensory-rich activities into playtime, such as water play, sand play, or messy play with paints and clay. Rhythmic movements, musical instruments, and other sensory output activities can improve your child’s quality of life. In addition, it may be worth it to incorporate deep breathing exercises and movement breaks. These activities provide children with opportunities to explore different sensations and develop their sensory processing skills in a fun and engaging way.

Routine and Environment: Establishing a predictable routine and creating a sensory-friendly environment at home and school can also support sensory regulation. This may include providing sensory tools like noise-canceling headphones or weighted blankets, as well as creating quiet, calming spaces where children can retreat when feeling overwhelmed.

 By prioritizing sensory experiences and including these activities in daily life, parents can help children with sensory regulation issues thrive. From supporting their sensory needs during mealtime to incorporating sensory play into their daily routines, creating a sensory-balanced lifestyle provides children with the support and opportunities they need to develop essential skills and confidently move through the world.

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About Julia DeNey

Julia DeNey is the founder of Sense-ational You, a clothing brand designed to empower children with ASD and SPD. Before starting her company, Julia studied fashion design at Cornell and served as an education technician where she worked closely with many students on the autism spectrum. Her clothing has been featured in Good Housekeep and The Boston Globe, in addition to being a CNMI Sustainable Fashion Award finalist.