Today, I wanted to chat about an issue that so many children struggle with, whether they have sensory processing needs or not. Colleen from The OT Toolbox has created yet another amazing resource to share with you and it is all related to attention and focus! *This post contains affiliate links. There is no extra cost to you, but we may earn an income. Please see our disclosure statement for further details.
Attention is a big challenge for kids. Distractions occur in the home, community, classroom, and everywhere a child goes! When attention interferes with learning, performance of functional tasks, or creates unsafe situations, it can be a real problem. But did you ever stop to think about how attention is so very related to sensory processing?
Our children with sensory challenges know the struggle of inattention. Parents, teachers, and therapists know that sensory processing challenges interfere with a child’s ability to attend. They may be so focused on a specific sensory input or need that they don’t notice when someone has called their name. Or, they may be so fearful in anticipation of a light touch that they miss what’s happening right in front of them.
As a parent, teacher, or therapist working with these children, we can find it difficult to address the underlying needs so that a child is able to pay attention to their classroom, or to a passing car.
We need to figure out strategies that meet the child’s needs in motivating and natural ways within the environment. Lack of attention span and undesirable responses to sensory input can lead to frustrated teachers, and challenged parents. Distractions from external and internal stimuli can lead to responses that look a lot like behaviors.
What if we could treat the underlying issues, resulting in increased focus and attention?
The Attention and Sensory Connection Workbook
That’s where the Attention and Sensory Connection Workbook can help. It’s a one-stop spotfor information on the basics of how attention is related to sensory processing. It provides tips to boost attention through the senses so that kids can learn, focus, and pay attention when they need to. The workbook covers information about how impaired sensory processing relates to attention issues in a variety of ways and provides movement and sensory-motor activities that can help boost attention. There are specific activity ideas and tactics to address attentiveness. You’ll also find workbook pages that can be used to identify underlying sensory-related areas that impact attention and tools for addressing those needs.
This is an ideal tool to add to any sensory lifestyle!
Here are a few ways that The Attention and Sensory Connection Workbook can address much-needed skills of our children/students/clients with sensory needs:
- It’s been found that there is a co-morbidity of 40-60% of ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder.
- This workbook is an actionable guide to help teachers, therapists, and parents to help kids boost attention and focus in the classroom by mastering sensory processing needs.
- You will find information on the sensory system and how it impacts attention and learning. There are step-by-step strategies for improving focus, and sensory-based tips and tricks that will benefit the whole classroom.
Don’t forget to grab your Free copy of The Attention and Sensory Connection Workbook!
School Sensory Strategy Toolkit
So often, kids with sensory processing challenges struggle in the school environment. Colleen from the OT Toolbox has created an amazing school sensory strategy toolkit just for you! This post contains affiliate links. There are no extra cost to you, but we may earn an income. Please see our disclosure statement for further details.
As a caregiver or parent, it is exhausting to see the challenges your child faces, while ticking through the laundry list of strategies and still witnessing the sensory breakdowns. Parents are the advocate for addressing their child’s needs. They are looking for resources to share.
Therapists are challenged to find tactics that will be carried over while meeting functional goals. We strive to create streamlined suggestions that will be used at home and in the midst of a busy classroom.
Often times, teachers are the middleman when it comes to sensory issues. They are dealing with curriculum requirements, little time, and demands of a full classroom. Time, space, and resources are limited in the classroom. Teachers struggle with meeting sensory needs and children who “feed off” other students.
Because of these challenges, the classroom can be a tricky environment for addressing the needs of students, incorporating strategies, and addressing behaviors related to sensory needs. If any of these struggles sound familiar, know that you are not alone!
You’re striving to find and use the sensory strategies that students need and to put them into place in easy-to-understand handouts where recommended tools can be highlighted. You’re seeking information about why students are acting the way they are and how to help them to improve learning, attention, regulation, and emotional needs so that educational needs are met.
Classroom Sensory Strategy Toolkit
That’s where the Classroom Sensory Strategy Toolkit comes in.
It’s a free printable packet of resources and handouts that can be used by teachers, parents, and therapists. Whether you are looking for a handout to explain sensory strategies, or a tool for advocating for your child, the Classroom Sensory Strategy Toolkit has got you covered.
And it’s free for you to print off and use again and again.
In the Classroom Sensory Strategy Toolkit, you’ll find:
- Fidgeting Tools for the Classroom
- Adapted Seating Strategies for the Classroom
- Self-Regulation in the Classroom
- 105 Calm-down Strategies for the Classroom
- Chewing Tools for Classroom Needs
- 45 Organizing Tools for Classroom Needs
- Indoor Recess Sensory Diet Cards
Here are a few ways that the Classroom Sensory Strategy Toolkit can address much-needed skills of our children/students/clients with sensory needs:
- Science tells us there are more kids with processing needs than ever before. Schools are responding with a better understanding of how to help students using sensory input within the school day.
- The Sensory Strategy Toolkit is a helpful tool for incorporating sensory needs within the educational environment as supports and tools that kids need.
- Sensory processing challenges in kids are baffling! Having a set of sensory tools that can be used in the classroom is powerful to teachers, parents, and therapists.
- Sensory processing issues cause stress, motivation, and challenges for the whole family. Having a toolkit of sensory strategies for the classroom can help.
- Self-regulation in the school environment can derail the whole classroom from effective learning. Use the calm-down strategies and self-regulation pieces in the toolkit and have the information you need to address these challenges.
- Those who work in the school environment struggle with a limited budget for addressing sensory needs. These strategies use equipment that is on hand in the classroom.
- The toolkit is appropriate for preschool through teenage years and older and the strategies can be modified to meet the needs of each individual.
Be sure to grab the Classroom Sensory Strategy Toolkit and start addressing those classroom sensory challenges!
There can be many sensory challenges that kids and teens face throughout the day. Colleen from The OT Toolbox has created a great solution for me to share with you today! *This post contains affiliate links. There is no extra cost to you, but we may earn an income. Please see our disclosure statement for further details.
It can be a real struggle to help kids manage tricky sensory-related challenges. Parents find it difficult to weed through all of the information and pull out what will work for their child. Teachers may struggle with kids who fall out of their chairs, can’t focus, and feed off other students. They may feel compelled to help these students but lack resources, time, or tactics. Therapists may search for fresh ideas that provide the right kind of sensory input and will be carried over at home and at school, all while fitting into the child’s occupational performance sweet spot.
Do one or more of the categories described above sound familiar?
Maybe you are trying sensory strategies, searching for information, and creating sensory diets that just aren’t working. You’re doing all of the right things, but struggle to meet the sensory needs of an individual child.
Colleen from the OT Toolbox has created an amazing FREE solution for you!
Outdoor Sensory Diet Cards
That’s where the Outdoor Sensory Diet Cards and Sensory Challenge Cards come into play.
They are a FREE printable resource that encourages sensory diet strategies in the outdoors. In the printable packet, there are 90 outdoor sensory diet activities, 60 outdoor recess sensory diet activities, 30 blank sensory diet cards, and 6 sensory challenge cards. They can be used based on preference and interest of the child, encouraging motivation and carryover, all while providing much-needed sensory input.
Research tells us that outdoor play improves attention and provides an ideal environment for a calm and alert state, perfect for integration of sensory input. In fact, outdoor play provides input from all the senses, allows for movement in all planes, and provides a variety of strengthening components including eccentric, concentric, and isometric muscle contractions. The outdoors are a vestibular, proprioceptive, tactile, and overall sensory-enriched goldmine!
There’s more: Providing opportunities for sensory diet activities in the outdoors encourages open-ended play, imagination, creativity, body awareness, learning skills, self-confidence, gross and fine motor development, attention, and social-emotional skill development.
Here are a few ways that the Outdoor Sensory Diet Cards and Sensory Challenge Cards can address much-needed skills of our children/students/clients with sensory needs:
- Outdoor play is the ideal setting for incorporating the “right kind” of sensory input. A child who uses a therapy band in the classroom receives just one direction of proprioceptive input. Outdoor play provides sensory input in all planes, directions, and with multiple senses.
- Outdoor sensory diet activities are easy, fun, and motivating…and they make memories for the whole family while meeting the needs of a child with sensory processing challenges.
- Outdoor sensory activities can be completed as a group or on an individual basis, and learning can be incorporated right into the tasks.
- Teachers will find the outdoor recess sensory diet cards appropriate for the right kind of sensory-based brain breaks throughout the day.
- The great outdoors is the biggest sensory gym you can imagine…and all of the sensory equipment is already there! From tree stumps, to hills, to pebbles, to pavement…outdoor sensory diet strategies can occur with little or no equipment.
- Parents will love these outdoor sensory strategies that make memories for the whole family.
- The whole family can join in on these sensory brain breaks! They provide the best kind of calming proprioceptive input, alerting movement, and sensory-based play that we ALL need!
- The outdoor sensory diet strategy cards include a section of outdoor recess activities. These are perfect for the parent advocating for more sensory input for their child at school. The school playground is a powerful source of calming and organizing input!
- Therapists will find the Outdoor Sensory Diet Cards a valuable tool in creating home programs. Every child needs more of this type of play!
- Sometimes therapists run into issues with sensory diet carryover at home or in the classroom. These are sensory-based activities that kids will love and WANT to do!
- As an added bonus, the Outdoor Recess Sensory Diet Cards included in this free packet can be used at any neighborhood playground, making a quick stop at a park a motivating means of incorporating much-needed sensory exercise.
- The Sensory Diet Challenge Cards incorporate all of the senses and are a quick checklist of activities that can be used for easy sensory activities.
Be sure to grab your copy of the Outdoor Sensory Diet Cards and Challenge Cards!
WHAT CAN WE DO AS PARENTS TO HELP OUR CHILDREN WITH THEIR SENSORY PROCESSING NEEDS FOR PERSONAL HYGIENE CARES FOR SOUND SENSITIVITIES?
*This post contains affiliate links. When you use this link to buy, we get a portion of the fee, at no cost to you. Please see our disclosure statement for further details.
Some children and adults can have sensitive hearing that may affect their ability to complete personal hygiene self care skills in the bathroom. They may experience ear pain during certain tasks such as the toilet flushing or hearing the hand dryer. How can we help in these situations?
Set up an environment that moves in a positive direction for their sensory system. If the child is sensitive to sound then don’t spend time in loud situations or not for very long and have places in your house that work well for someone that is sensitive to sound. Chose activities where sound isn’t an issue. Realize that some days they will be more sensitive than other days and noise may not affect them as much when the activity is highly motivating to them. Let them regulate the sound. Have hearing checked when it’s appropriate and finding professionals that help with sound sensitivities like occupational therapists or audiologists. Talk with your doctor if you have concerns with your child’s ears.
WAYS TO HELP THE CHLD COPE WITH SOUND SENSITIVITIES:
- Give them Advance Warning that a situation may be noisy
- Help them find a place in the bathroom away from the noisy areas. Remind them about self flushing toilets or automatic hand dryers
- Find ways to help muffle the sounds that affect them. Try over the ear headphones or ear plugs nearby to help, but we do not want to cancel out the sound entirely as this could pose a safety risk.
- Encourage them to use their visual system and focus on what they are seeing. Sometimes it can be hard to discriminate what they are hearing and what is important to listen to. If they can focus on what they are seeing this can help them decide what they are hearing and what is important to listen to.
- Problem solve with other professionals, parents, kids, or teachers. The more we can reach out to others to help our child the more likely we can all help find a solution to help our child. Reaching out for help can help us all think of solutions we may not have thought of on our own.
- Try out new situations and loud situations slowly. If you are going out in public to a new situation, call ahead and find out when they are least busy to help create a more quieter environment. If you are trying out a new situation at home go slowly and explain the new situation to them so they can have an understanding of what to expect.
- Help them learn to advocate for themselves. Help teach them to tell others when the sounds are too loud for them or are upsetting to them. For instance if they are at a friends house and the TV is too loud, teach them how to politely ask them to turn the volume down.
TRY OUT THESE SOUND TOOLS:
- Wearing headphones during tasks that are safe (when water won’t get them wet)
- Try out ear plugs during very noisy situations
- Sometimes a white noise maker on a low setting in the background can help
- Creating a quiet environment in the bathroom (not using hand dryers or flushing the toilet when they are in the room)
- Speak in a quiet tone and do not raise your voice
- Let them use something that is comforting to them during the task. Is there a fidget toy that they enjoy feeling or using that helps calm them?
- Complete deep breathing techniques before beginning the activity to help calm their bodies
- Some people enjoy music and can find this motivating, if they can regulate the sound of the music you could try playing different motivating songs when completing tasks.
- They may also be motivated to earn music or games such as an I Tunes Gift card, Amazon Gift card, or Steam Gift card for completing tasks.
LectroFan High Fidelity White Noise Machine with 20 Unique Non-Looping Fan and White Noise Sounds and Sleep TimerCOWIN E7 Active Noise Cancelling Bluetooth Headphones with Microphone Hi-Fi Deep Bass Wireless Headphones Over Ear, Comfortable Protein Earpads, 30H Playtime for Travel Work TV Computer Iphone – Black
Fidget Spinner High Speed Tri-Spinner Fidget Toy Stress Reducer with Premium Bearing Hand Fidget Spinner Perfect for ADD,ADHD,Anxiety,Autism Adult and Children(Black)Mack’s Ultra Soft Foam Earplugs, 50 Pair – 32dB Highest NRR, Comfortable Ear Plugs for Sleeping, Snoring, Work, Travel and Loud Events
EXAMPLES OF SOUNDS THAT COULD BE MORE DISTRACTING IN THEIR ENVIRONMENT
- People noise especially where 2 or more conversations are taking place
- Person in one room is talking and another person talking in the next room
- Someone walking around the room when someone is talking to you
- A fly buzzing around
- Washing machine and dryer
- Dish washer
- Air conditioning and heat vent
- Dog or cat
- Taking dishes out of the dishwasher
- All the noises when driving in a vehicle
ARE YOU LOOKING FOR ADDITIONAL HELP WITH PERSONAL HYGIENE SKILLS? CHECK OUT OUR EVERYDAY LIFE SKILLS PERSONAL HYGIENE SKILLS IN THE BATHROOM EBOOK.
This ebook can help you teach your child how to shower, take a bath, wash their face, brush their teeth, brush their hair, and use the toilet. Plus we provide tons of sensory strategies and behavioral strategies!!
EVERYDAY LIFE SKILLS PERSONAL HYGIENE SKILLS IN THE BATHROOM EBOOK
Does your child or teen struggle with personal hygiene skills due to sensory challenges? Check out our free Personal Hygiene Sensory Strategies Toolkit for help!
Are you looking for more help and ideas for life skills for your teenager? Fill out our form below to get your FREE copy of our Life Skills Checklist for Teenagers with Autism for Transitioning into Adulthood!
Sensory Strategies for Teens
*this post contains affiliate links. There is no extra cost to you, but will greatly help our family. Please read our disclosure statement for further details.
Our family has discovered that there are tons of resources for sensory strategies for young children out there on the internet, but it can be a different story when you are looking for resources for teens, tweens, and adults. We wanted to do what we could to help provide you with some of our own information as well as some valuable information from other bloggers as well.
My brother is now 15 years old and his sensory preferences have changed over the years as to compared to when he was a little child. One thing that is different now is that he is better able to verbalize to us what things he likes to do and what things he prefers.
One sensory tool that was vital for my brother when he was younger was a hammock swing. He loved this swing and he would constantly swing in it during the day when he was playing video games or playing on his iPad. We had the swing set up in the middle of our living room. Now that he has gotten bigger, we don’t have the swing in our living room, but set up a swing outside when it is nice outside.
XXL Hammock Chair Swing by Hammock Sky – For Patio, Porch, Bedroom, Backyard, Indoor or Outdoor – Includes Hanging Hardware and Drink Holder (Limpet Shell)
Finding strategies that work for your teen can sometimes be a challenge, but we want to help make this easier for you.
Here are a list of some of the sensory strategies and tools that have worked for my brother:
Fidgets that he can use while at his computer
Set of 3! Tangle Jr. Original Fidget ToyLiquid Motion Bubbler for Sensory Play, Fidget Toy, Children Activity, Desk Top, Assorted ColorsDSSY Stress Spinner Fidget Finger Dice Anti-Stress Release Toys for Children/Adults
Headphones that he can wear to listen to music
Mpow 059 Bluetooth Headphones Over Ear, Hi-Fi Stereo Wireless Headset, Foldable, Soft Memory-Protein Earmuffs, w/ Built-in Mic and Wired Mode for PC/ Cell Phones/ TV
Different oral motor sensory items such as bubble gum, sour candies, or gummy candies.
ICE BREAKERS ICE CUBES Chewing Gum, Peppermint, Sugar Free, 10 Piece Boxes (Pack of 8)Haribo Gold-Bears Gummi Candy (28.8 Ounce Resealable Pouch)Sour Patch Kids Sweet and Sour Gummy Candy (Original, 1.9 Pound Bag)
Some of the differences that I have noticed for my brother as he has gotten older is he doesn’t need to seek out movement activities as much. He enjoys finding activities to keep his hands busy while he is waiting for things. He still really enjoys music, and he enjoys some of the visual type sensory items as well.
Working as an occupational therapist, I get questions all of the time about how can I support my child’s sensory needs. I do my best to help them come up with sensory strategies and tools to best support their needs. Every teen and child is different and in different situations some strategies work, and sometimes they don’t. The key here is to be patient and be willing to be flexible. Be willing to try new things and think outside of the box to find strategies that work for your teen.
What can you do as the parent to help support your teen with finding their sensory preferences?
Now that they are older, can they tell you things that they like and prefer? My brother can now tell us what he wants such as a snack or listening to music. If they can’t tell you, you will have to learn to observe and listen to what they are telling you through their behaviors.
Observe Their Behaviors
Take time to notice how they are responding to different situations during the day. Is there an activity they were doing where they were calm or helped give them energy?
Help Identify Some Problem Areas
Help your teen identify some areas that they are having a hard time with. Do they have a hard time with focus, staying awake, following directions, or sitting still? Help your teen think of times during the day when they are having a harder time? What would be some strategies you could try to implement during those times of day or during those situations.
Here are some great resources from the Inspired Tree House about the Auditory System and the Proprioceptive and Vestibular Systems to help you identify some of the problem areas.
Teens and Sensory Processing: The Auditory System
Teens and Sensory Processing: Movement
Sensory Processing: What is Proprioception?
Help them Become Self-Aware
When we learn some of the problem areas, this can also help teach the teen to become more self-aware of what some of their needs may be. The ultimate goal is for our teen to be able to self-regulate themselves on their own without our help so that they can be at their optimal functional level during the day. When the teens can learn to self-regulate on their own this will help them through their everyday life skills and routines.
Check out our Questionnaire about how to help your teen find sensory strategies that work for them!!
Set up their Environment for Success
If they need a little help from you before they are independent, you can set up their environment to help them find the strategies that work for them. For instance my brother keeps most of his fidget type toys right by his computer or in our living room so that he has quick access to them and doesn’t have to go searching for them, which would add another step for him. He also keeps his music and headphones in the same spot in the living room so he knows exactly where they are. The easier we can make it on our teens to get to the objects, the less they will need to rely on our help.
Does your child or teen struggle with personal hygiene skills due to sensory challenges? Check out our free Personal Hygiene Sensory Strategies Toolkit for help!
Sensory and Calm Down Resources you will LOVE!!
“A Secret” Problem-Solving Method for Adolescents with Sensory Struggles
How to Use Yoga as a Calming Strategy for Meltdowns
SENSORY ISSUES: TRICKS AND TIPS FOR TEENS AND OLDER KIDS
40+ Calm Down Tools for Older Kids (Free printable)
Sensory Activities for the Older Child
Create a Sensory Diet at Home
Tire Obstacle Course with Ninja Warrior Inspired Challenges- Sensory & Gross Motor
Calm Down Kit for Older Children; Developing Emotional Self-Regulation
15 Mindfulness and Relaxation Apps for Kids with Anxiety
Helping our Teen to find the right strategies that work for them is our number one goal! I hope you found some of our personal stories or links to the other posts helpful as you are looking for helpful strategies to help your own teen!
We are here to help! Let us know in the comments below if there are specific strategies that have worked well for your teen!
Holiday Sensory Play Ideas for Children with Autism
*This post may contain affiliate links. Please see our disclosure policy for further information.
Christmas is almost here and winter is upon us! I love the magical feeling of this time of year! I love driving around town and looking at the Christmas lights up around the neighborhood. Now, I don’t always love the cold weather here in Iowa, and I love finding fun activities to complete inside where I can stay warm!
Our family loves finding fun ways to incorporate sensory play based activities. I wanted to share with you some great Holiday sensory play based ideas that you can complete together inside! These are great ideas to help your loved one experience new tactile sensory experiences!
Check out these Fun Holiday Sensory Bin Play Ideas!
O Holy Night Sensory Bin
Winter Sensory Bin
Melted Snowman Sensory Bottle
Winter Wonderland Sensory Bin
Christmas Sensory Bin
Melted Snowman Sensory Play
Sensory Bins can be a great way to expose your child to new tactile feelings on their hands and you can make them educational as well! You can hid different objects inside the bins and work on counting, color sorting, size sorting, or have them close their eyes and try to identify what they found with their eyes closed! There are endless opportunities for ways to play with sensory bins!!
Check out these AWESOME Slime and Playdough Recipes!!
Holiday Slimes for Christmas Science Activities
Fantastic Candy Cane Christmas Fluffy Slime Recipe
Beautiful Tinsel Glitter Christmas Slime Recipe
Ugly Christmas Sweater Play dough
Peppermint Essential Oil Christmas Play dough
How to make Snow Gel-Sensory Play
I personally love to play with different textures of play dough and slime! It can be so soothing for some. You can incorporate fine motor skills with working on finding small objects within the play dough or slime and work on using a pincer grasp with finding the objects inside the slime. You can have the child work on hand strength by gripping, squishing and pinching the slime. They could use cookie cutters to push into the slime or play dough to form new shapes. This is another great activity to help with tactile sensory play ideas!
Are you looking for more Holiday Sensory Ideas?
Check out our FREE Printable about Holiday Sensory Ideas!!
Download the form by providing us with your name and email below and the PDF form will be emailed to you!
We would love to hear what sensory play ideas you like to complete inside over the winter months!! What are your favorites?
Are you looking for more Autism FREE Resources? Check out this post to download the 180+ FREE Autism Resource Guide!!