SENSORY SENSE

The JumpTherapy Blog:
Sensory Processing, Motor and Social Skills Resources
for Parents of Special Needs Children

THE PRACTICAL BACKPACK

Strategies and tips for situations and behaviors

Part 2 of 2: How to use touching, looking and mouth activities to change engine gears
backpack

Touching, looking and mouth activities for changing alertness states

Touching activities
    • Putting hands into a container of beans, rice or sand and sifting contents through fingers
    • Brushing a feather over your arms (light touch)
    • Squeezing your arms with your hands (deep pressure)
    • Taking a cool shower or putting cold water on face and/or arms
    • Taking a warm shower or putting warm water on face and/or arms
   • Wearing close-fitting or spandex clothing, such as bike shorts, leggings or long underwear (can be worn unobtrusively under regular clothes)
    • Wrapping up in a blanket, flexible mat, body sock, material, etc.
    • Laying under a weighted or heavy blanket
    • Sitting and holding a lap weight
    • Roll a therapy ball gently over your child’s body while s/he is lying on a mat or rug (deep pressure)
    • Make vibrations on your child’s arms, hand or back
    • Use two fingers on both sides of your child’s spine and give a light upward stroke 3-5 times
    • Use two fingers on both sides of your child’s spine and give a firm downward stroke 3-5 times
 
Touching and movement combination activities
    • Crawling through a short tunnel of material
    • Performing compression activities such as wall pushups, pushing hands together, hugging yourself
    • Playing with a fidget toy or spinner
    • Playing with squeezable objects (such as clay, play dough, Thera-putty, silly putty, squishy toys, beanbags, etc.)
 
Touching and listening combination activities
    • Sitting and holding a lap weight while listening to a story or music
    • Laying under a weighted or heavy blanket, or being wrapped up, while listening to a story or music
 
Looking activities
    • Watching fish swim around in a tank
    • Looking at a snow globe
    • Watching a lava lamp, patterned screensaver, or other slow-moving object
    • Sitting in a dimly lit room, preferably with sparsely-decorated walls painted in cool colors
    • Turning off the lights
 
Looking and touching combination activities
    • Performing any looking activity while sitting and holding a lap weight
    • Performing any looking activity while laying under a weighted or heavy blanket, or being wrapped up
    • Reading or working while lying under a heavy/weighted blanket
 
Mouth activities
    • Eating chewy foods such as fruit leather or roll-ups, dried fruit, gummy candy, bagels
    • Eating crunchy foods such as pretzels, carrots, apples, granola, etc.
    • Sucking on a piece of fruit before eating it
    • Sucking on sour candies or mints
    • Eating popsicles, frozen grapes, or frozen orange sections
    • Drinking grapefruit, cranberry or other tart juice, especially if is partially frozen
    • Drinking through a long, thin straw
    • Using short straws to eat foods such as pudding, yogurt, custard, soft ice cream, applesauce, etc.
    • Drinking a thick liquid, such as a milkshake, through a straw
    • Drinking through a straw or bottle with a sports cap
    • Sucking on a sports type water bottle
    • Chewing gum, especially strong flavors such as mint
    • Chewing/sucking on special chewable jewelry, Theratubing, pencil topper chews, etc.
    • Blowing up a balloon
    • Blowing pinwheels
    • Blowing bubbles
    • Blowing cotton balls along a table to race or score goals
    • Using a straw to blow cotton balls along a table to race or score goals
    • Using a straw to blow bubbles in the bathwater
    • Using a straw to blow ping pong balls in the bath
    • Using a “blow pen” to make art
    • Blowing a whistle
    • Blowing a harmonica

    • Playing a wind instrument

Note: Again, please don’t limit yourself to these lists; use them as a springboard for you and your family to develop activities that work best for you.
 
Looking ahead:
I’ll be suggesting ideas and tips for more situations in upcoming Practical Backpack posts, interspersed among other in-depth posts about sensory issues. In the next post, we will begin discussing in detail what a sensory diet is, and how it can help keep daily life running smoothly.
 
Have you encountered any challenges for which you’d like coping strategies? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below. And of course you can always let me know there or via email about any other topics you would like to discuss or hear more about.
 
Feel free to share or quote from this blog (with attribution, please, and if possible, a link), and to repost on social media.
 
 
I look forward to hearing from you!
 
 

All the best,
Miriam

About Miriam:
Miriam Skydell MS, OTR/L is a pediatric OT with 30 years experience and a strong commitment to empowering every child and every family with the skills, confidence and emotional stability necessary for a meaningful, independent life. In addition to her Masters degree from NYU (1986) and membership in the AOTA (American Occupational Therapy Association), Miriam is a licensed Interactive Metronome®,  HWT (Handwriting Without Tears®), and TLP (The Listening Program®) provider.

Miriam performs preschool screenings, contracts experienced OTs, PTs and STs to schools, helped implement the HWT curriculum, and lectures extensively for parent and support groups and at teacher conferences for public and private schools throughout New Jersey. Through her private practice in Fair Lawn, Miriam Skydell and Associates, established in 1995, Miriam has helped countless children with a wide range of diagnoses improve functional living skills, manage the impact of sensory processing dysfunction, and meet their individual potentials.

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