Therapy Thursday: Sensory Integration and Sensory Diets

Posted Thursday October 13, 2011 by Melissa

Case loves hanging out

Conspicuously absent from most literature about MPS is any mention of the sensory integration challenges that many of our children face. Prior posts discuss using weighted toys, blankets, and garments, but we recently came to the conclusion that we needed to implement a sensory diet for Case as well. A “sensory diet” can be defined as:

a carefully designed, personalized activity plan that provides the sensory input a person needs to stay focused and organized throughout the day. Just as you may jiggle your knee or chew gum to stay awake or soak in a hot tub to unwind, children need to engage in stabilizing, focusing activities too. Infants, young children, teens, and adults with mild to severe sensory issues can all benefit from a personalized sensory diet.

quoted from Sensory Smarts. Although the clinical trial drug has improved Case’s hyperactivity and attention span, he still would be considered extremely ADHD were it not for MPS causing the behavior. So, in light of the fact that this may be a more permanent fixture in his life, we decided we needed a more long-term solution to address it – thus, a sensory diet. For more general information on sensory diets, see:

We compiled a list below of all the activities that might be effective for Case’s sensory issues. Obviously, you can see from the lists that proprioceptive and pressure touch activities are the ones that work best for him currently.

As we experiment with different activities, some may get crossed off the list and some may become favorites. Our current plan, based on his behaviors, is to do the Wilbarger brushing and joint compressions in the morning, along with probably 2 other proprioceptive activities and a pressure touch activity. After school and in the evening would be a similar plan with additional activities interspersed depending on his needs and results.

Proprioceptive Activities

Case on a trampoline

Very happy, jumping on the trampoline

  1. Push another person to log roll lengthwise
  2. Log roll across the room
  3. Jump on the trampoline
  4. Hold hands with another person and jump together 10 times
  5. Run and crash into the beanbag or pillows
  6. Play “tug-of-war” with a towel
  7. Push someone across the room in a swivel chair
  8. Hold him by his hands in the air (simulate monkey bars)
  9. Hold him upside down by his ankles
  10. Take turns pulling each other across the room on a towel
  11. Take turns pushing each other across the room in a laundry basket
  12. Throw a bean bag harder, longer, or higher
  13. Push a ball through a tunnel
  14. Jump in and out of hula hoops set up in a row on the floor
  15. Have a pillow fight
  16. Row, row row your boat – sit facing each other, holding hands, pull back and forth
  17. Push against the walls (“push the walls out to make the room bigger!”)
  18. Run through an obstacle course of trampoline, balance board, hula hoop jumping, ride-on toy, balance beam

Useful Proprioceptive Household Chores

  1. Vacuum family room
  2. Lift off couch cushions, vacuum under, and replace
  3. Load and unload the washer and dryer
  4. Rake leaves

Pressure Touch Activities

Case loves hanging out

Case loves hanging out

  1. Wilbarger Deep Pressure Protocol – brushing and joint compressions
  2. Strong and long hugs
  3. Make him into a Case-adilla (roll him up in a blanket and squeeze him)
  4. Squeeze him between two pillows or couch cushions with room to breathe
  5. Roll him back and forth on an exercise ball and kick off to roll over into cushions
  6. Play “bulldozer” – roll ball up and down over his body while he lies on the ground
  7. Roll together in a hug (carefully) with an adult
  8. Have a pillow fight

Transition (room-to-room, stairs, in/out of house) Activities

  1. Push someone hand-to-hand to another room (push me to the kitchen)
  2. Wheelbarrow walk
  3. Sing the transition songs
  4. Wear the weighted belt when he is going places where he needs to be calm
  5. Carry a heavy canvas bag up and down the steps

Vestibular Activities

  1. Lie him flat in a blanket and lift it up and down or swing it back and forth
  2. Jump on a trampoline
  3. Sit on adult’s lap and rock back and forth
  4. Play Ring Around the Rosie
  5. Log roll across the room
  6. Spin while seated in a swivel chair

Oral Activities

  1. Chew gummy bears, licorice or tootsie rolls
  2. Chew frosted flakes
  3. Offer an electric toothbrush
  4. Suck applesauce through a straw
  5. Blow bubbles

Tactile Activities

  1. Draw in shaving cream on the table
  2. Roll and squeeze theraputty or play doh
  3. Find objects hidden in theraputty
  4. Squeeze bubble wrap
  5. Wear medical gloves
  6. Wrap up in a towel warmed in the dryer

The above techniques were drawn from:

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One Response to “Therapy Thursday: Sensory Integration and Sensory Diets”

  1. […] At the beginning of the trial, it was necessary for us to have baby gates at each room entrance or Case would open/close all the doors and cabinets and basically get into everything. We store a tunnel and used to store an inflatable jumping thing and a Cozy Coupe car that we needed because of Case’s extreme hyperactivity as well. The Durham RTP family room was big enough for those, but the Chapel Hill one is really not. The hotel time also involves a lot of furniture and bed jumping and climbing and we work into it a lot of proprioceptive activities from Case’s sensory diet. […]