For a child who seeks deep pressure…
· Provide deep pressure hugs or massage
· Have child wear a weighted backpack or fanny pack during the day
· Use a heavy blanket to wrap and roll your child up like a hotdog
· Squish your child between large sofa cushions
· Have your child participate in heavy work activities such as pushing the grocery cart as you fill it with groceries
· Let your child jump on a trampoline
· If your child plays with stuffed animals, weight them by fill ing them with bags of aquarium rocks or other non-toxic materials
For a child who is gravitationally insecure…
· Go to the playground or park and swing, slide, ride the merry-go-rounds, etc.
· Encourage your child to move rather than moving providing the movement for them.
· Never spin, twirl or swing a child excessively for too long of a time
· Allow your child’s feet to remain on the ground while slowly moving forward and backward (forward and backward movement is more comfortable than rotary movement)
· Engage your child in imaginative play which may distract him from movements that are scary
· Provide added weight such as wrist or ankle weights during climbing or movement experiences
· Consider going to new parks or playgrounds in advance of play dates or birthday parties so that the child can familiarize himself on the equipment at his own pace and to work through some of his fears.
· Seat your child in the middle seat in the back so that he or she can see out the front window while the car is moving
· Provide your child with something to suck on or chew such as pretzel sticks, gold fish crackers, rice cakes or crunchy cereals and he or she can also suck a liquid from a resistant sports bottle
· Place window shades on the side windows to cut down overwhelming visual input and bothersome sun light during the drive
· Play calming music
· Avoid using strong air fresheners
For a child who is overly responsive to touch…
· Light ticklish touch is usually more irritating than firm constant touch pressure. Use the palm of your hand to touch your child rather than your fingertips if possible.
· Have your child play with different textures of fabrics such as wool, cotton, satin, corduroy, etc.
· Paint or draw in pudding, shaving cream or finger paint.
· Scoop and pour items such as rice, beans, shredded paper, styrofoam peanuts, or popcorn kernels.
· Hide objects in the rice or beans and try to find them without looking.
· Allow the child to stand at the back of the line in school instead of between two other children.
· Pay attention to the types of fabrics on clothing and try to find fabrics and clothing that your child tolerates such as seamless socks. Let your child wear clothing that he or she prefers and avoid crowded areas.
· Encourage active child directed tactile exploration and heavy work activities that will help your child organize and integrate more intense tactile experiences.
For a child who has difficulty planning, organizing and sequencing activities…
· Provide consistent home routines
· Use picture cues to help your child understand the sequences of events or activities
· Help your child manage time with the use of an egg timer
· Model new activities for your child
· Work on increasing your child’s ability to sequence more steps to an activity by adding additional task requirements one by one
· Vary the environment and familiar activities to encourage adaptation and variety in play
· Try playing games differently such as building with different sized blocks
· Create a repetoire of songs that can be used during transitions such as the “clean-up “ song, wake up song, good bye, all done, etc.
· Help the child learn to clean up one activity before starting another by using labeled bins or drawers
· Help your child identify when his approach is not working and work together to try another way of doing the task
For a child who has poor sleep and wake routines…
· Have a consistent bedtime routine and start it before your child becomes over tired and moves into overdrive.
· Provide relaxing activities one hour or more prior to bedtime such as a soothing bath, quiet music, reading in bed, etc.
· A heavy comforter or sleeping bag can provide deep calming pressure which can help a child fall asleep
· Place pillows or large stuffed animals on the edges of the bed to make the bed seem smaller and to provide a more enclosed sleeping space
· Provide window darkening shades or curtains
· Respect your child’s choice in sleepwear. Some children with tactile sensitivities often prefer soft cotton pajamas without feet and some children prefer tighter fitting pajamas that provide touch pressure. Still others like loose fitting clothes at night.
· Be cautious around highly stimulating activities such as birthday parties, mall outings, recess or lunchtime at school, or playgrounds. Your child may be bothered by the amount of sensory input that these situations create. Allow your child to adjust as he or she feels comfortable and only spend as much time in these activities as your child feels comfortable.
· If you know that your day will include highly sensory activities, provide more calming and organizing activities the rest of the day.
· Shorten family gatherings or outings as needed. Get a sitter to come and stay with your child while you go grocery shopping or to the mall. If you have to take your child, take them when it is less busy.
· Before entering a stimulating situation, help your child to engage in gross motor movement such as running or jumping in a safe place, or engage him in “heavy work” activities such as pushing on the wall and trying to move it.
Facilitating social interactions and play skills…
· To facilitate eye contact, get down at your child’s eye level when speaking to him
· Embellish your facial expressions and the tone of your voice to help your child understand what you are trying to communicate
· Model appropriate social interactions such as saying hello, goodbye and please and thank you. Provide your child with concrete cues for social interaction such as “Here comes Sam, let’s say hello to him”
· Play peek a boo and hide and seek games with your child to encourage interactions and social give and take
· Encourage cause and effect play to help your child understand how she can impact interactions with objects and people
· Encourage your child to engage in dramatic play such as dress-up, playing with cars, dolls or farm animals or acting out simple scenes themselves with puppets.
· Expose your child to interactions where turn taking is necessary such as imitating sounds back and forth, taking turns during a cooking or clean up task or playing simple board games.
· Encourage your child to make choices and begin to teach simple negotiation if your choice does not match theirs such as this time we will play your way and next time, we will try it my way.
(adapted from Home Checklist, Occupational Therapy Associates, Watertown,)