In our post What’s your Sensory Profile, we explain that our sensory profile identifies how much stimuli we can handle and how we attempt to regulate ourselves when it’s too much. Understanding these sensory profiles can be extremely helpful when it comes to creating sensory-focused activities or meaningful sensory breaks.
Let’s dig into Sensory Seeking individuals and how to build a successful sensory motor routine for them.
Tendencies and Goals
Sensory seekers have a high sensory tolerance and an active response. This means they tend to require high amounts of sensory input such as deep pressure, continuous movement, or frequent touching of objects in their environment.
For individuals categorized as sensory seeking, the goal is to use intense sensory experiences that fulfill their sensory needs. This may include controlled, multisensory activities that incorporate high levels of vestibular, tactile, and proprioceptive input. Highly intense movements encourage increased attention, improved behavior, and the development of postural control. However, it is critical to incorporate calming activities as well such as slow rhythmic swinging to help reduce the chance for overstimulation.
Building a Sensory Routine for Seekers
Creating an effective sensory routine can be difficult at first, but with some trial and error, you’ll find what works. Here are some examples that can help you get started with a routine for your sensory seeker.
Just as you need to warm up the body for exercise, focus on easing into the activities and equipment used for the stimulation phase. This will help prevent the individual from becoming overstimulated too quickly.
Using a saucer swing, try these activities to “warm up”:
- Slow, light movements while seated.
- Stand on the swing while trying various fun poses.
- Play a “Simon Says” color game, tapping the various colors on the swing.
Emphasize stimulating movements, providing high levels of vestibular and proprioceptive input. Be creative in your activities by creating games or circuits. This will make the session feel more like fun and less like sensory motor work! Remember to pay attention so you don’t risk overstimulation.
The activities below utilize a variety of equipment. Try to stick to 2-4 items to maintain interest and keep a steady flow.
- High back-and-forth / rotational swinging
- Climbing or jumping
3. Cool Down
Help the individual calm their body, refocus, and reduce any overstimulation that may have occurred during the session. Don’t skip this phase – it is better to shorten the main activities than to omit the cool down and risk adverse effects of the sensory session.
Return to the Saucer Swing or lie in the Lycra Hammock Swing and incorporate slow soothing movement. Try adding in some relaxing music at a low volume to add an auditory cue that it is time to wind down.
If you think you have a sensory seeker, hopefully some of these activity ideas help! We're on this journey together to Find Focus through Movement, and if you have more questions, please contact us.
This article should not be used in lieu of a professional's assessment or diagnosis. The information provided is for general information and understanding only.
Resources: Casey Dravis, OTD, OTR/L and Dr. Winnie Dunn, OTR
Writer: Katie Johnson, SRx Brand Manager and Special Needs Parent
Reviewer: Kevin Anderson, PhD, OTR/L, ATP