Sensory diets have been around for some time and often parents feel like this is what should be provided in their occupational therapy session. Sensory diets are activities that are given at the same time each day in the same order and in the same way. They can often be very rigid and sometimes become a power of will between caregivers and children. The items in a sensory diet are usually very helpful but no child has the same day twice; therefore, one day the sensory items might make a big difference where the next day they are the opposite of what a child might need.
A sensory toolbox is something that as an OT I have found much more beneficial. This is the ability to guide, educate and build confidence for children and caregivers when using sensory strategies. We want to empower our children to understand and advocate for their sensory needs and preferences. A child’s toolbox continues to grow as we slowly introduce sensory strategies.
It is common to try too many sensory strategies in one week or in one day. This often is overstimulating to a child and doesn’t allow them to understand how a strategy changes their “engine”.
Here is how a sensory toolbox looks as we grow education and strategies.
This takes trial and error, reading your child’s cues and co-regulation to make the most gains.
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