I have had parents ask me what sensory products/ideas we use around the house for our "sensory diet." So I have decided to start series about different sensory ideas for all aspects of SPD, this week I am starting with Heavy Work Activities part 1.
With 3 kids who have sensory problems finding a great resource for one kid doesn't always perk the interest of the other ones, so we have a lot of different tools to use. I have a system that is still in the works for storing and making a visual schedule of the boy's sensory activities that I will be sharing as soon as I finish it up.
Ethan, Dustin, and Cody have problems regulating the arousal levels. Dustin and Ethan are very hyper they are my crashers and jumpers, pretty much the kids who find it impossible to sit still unless they are focused intently on something they enjoy, I love the analogy "like a bull in a China shop. Cody on the other hand is the complete opposite and could see the house on fire and slowly mozy his way out of the house lol. Let's just say both aspects of it sure can try your patients as a parent or teacher. Regular heavy work input WILL help to calm or stimulate these children.
These activities are truly used for most sensory processing issues and can have an amazing affect on the nervous system for regulation and modulation.
Heavy Work Activities:
Wash out and fill a gallon size milk container with rice/beans and have the kids pass it around a circle like "hot potato"
Push a shopping cart/doll stroller with anything heavy inside. We actually would bring a toy shopping cart to the store with us when Ethan was younger and store trips were nightmares, he would load it up with groceries and follow us through the store, it didn't help completly but any help is a blessing!
Pulling a wagon this is a favorite for all the kids.
Pushing a box/laundry basket with anything with weight in it through the house
Using a backpack loaded with as heavy of a load as the child can carry. This has been a huge help for my sensory seekers, especially when we go out on field trips!
Weighted blankets have been VERY helpful for us getting kids to sleep when they cannot keep still long enough to doze off.
Weighted vest or ankle weights we have not found these useful with Ethan he doesn't like anything touching his skin he doesn't approve of, and vests or weights were not one of them. Cody did however like them and tend to keep him more interested in whats going on.
Stacking books, or helping stack chairs
Filling a dump truck with heavy blocks and push around outside or inside.
Weighted Lap Pad for seated work time.
Jumping, bouncing, swinging:
Trampoline, we keep a mini trampoline in the living room, it has been a great way for kids to get energy out expecially when it's to cold or rainy to go outside. The kids really enjoy jumping off the trampoline into beanbags chairs, pillows, or couch cushions.
Hippity hop ball- all the kids really love this toy, and it has held up to quite a bit of use!
Swinging from a trapeze bar and crashing into bean bags, cushions, or gym mats.
Pogo Stick has been another winner in our house, after TONS of practice Dustin can pogo stick no handed for quite a long time, Anthony is trying hard to learn so he can beat his record.
Playing jump rope
Potato Sack races
Wheel barrow walk races
Climbing or Hanging:
Climbing up rock walls, ladders, ropes, cargo nets, or even trees. If you cant find kids in the summer in our yard look in the tree, it is a favorite place for all the kids who come over.
Monkey bars, trapeze bar, gym rings either outside, or even inside using an indoor swing anchor. Dustin and Ethan seem to enjoy the climbing more than Cody, Ethan could even climb up the rock and rope wall by the time he was 2 years old.
Walking, running in sand
Sandwich/ "Squishing "
Being "squished" between 2 cushions
Roll a child in a blanket/between cushions like a taco.
Bear Hugs- Would work wonders for Ethan when he would get into big fits that he couldn't snap out of.
Firm towel dry after baths and showers, lotion body and dress in tight pj's
Roll exercise/peanut ball over the child
2 adults can swing a child in a blanket. The older kids love this, but Ethan took a very long time to deal with the gravitational insecurities for activities like this.
I have many ideas for DIY or inexpensive sensory ideas on my Pinterest Board
I compiled a list together of 50 heavy work activities you can purchase from Amazon below in the video. Leave a comment and let me know your favorite Sensory Diet activities.