Sensory Diet


How Kids in Motion can Help!

Understanding your child’s development and behaviors can be challenging and overwhelming. With many different opinions and suggestions on what your child should or shouldn’t be doing can be stressful and confusing. Although, having the proper resources and education is important to improve your knowledge on ways to help your child develop to the best of their ability and Kids in Motion is here to help.Kids in Motion

Every child is different, and it may take some time and trial-and-error to discover the right sensory diet for your child that not only provides them the correct amount of sensory input, but that also fits into your child and family’s routine.

Learn the difference between sensory and behavior:  Is it sensory or behavior? (Read more here)



As a parent of a child who may need more or less sensory input depending on their sensory processing needs (which you can learn more about on our Sensory Basics page) you may be wondering about what you could do to help your child. 

What is a sensory diet?

Sensory diets are sensory activities that are combined with your daily routines in order to assist a person in getting the input they need in order to:

  • Attend to daily tasks and important learning experiences throughout the day
  • Regulate alertness
  • Limit sensory seeking or avoiding behaviors
  • Handle stress
  • Help a person learn to deal with challenging situations

There are multitudes of different activities you can do in order to help achieve a better sensory input balance for your child. However, different activities help with different types of processing difficulties. Kids in MotionA good first step is to create a sensory journal: keep track of when sensory behaviors occur and what behaviors they are. This journal can help tell you if your child falls in the hypo or hypersensitive category, what time the behaviors tend to occur, what event(s) are happening when the behaviors occur, and what senses are involved. The journal can also help tell you when the sensory diets should be performed – the key is prevention, so provide the input before the anticipated reactions and try to perform them at the same time every day. Routine is key to regulation.
An occupational therapist can help you identify how your child is processing sensory input and the type of input they have trouble processing. In addition to providing different types of sensory input and strategies to aid in sensory processing. An occupational therapist can also work with you and your family to create a routine and develop a sensory diet to best fit the needs of your child.
Once you gather this information about your child, below is a chart of some examples of activities that an occupational therapist will provide as part of the sensory diet they create.



Sense Affected Calming Activities                  (for hypersensitivity) Alerting Activities                           (for hyposensitivity)
  • Slow swinging on swings
  • Rocking in rocking chair
  • Being pushed in a wagon
  • Skating, slow bike riding
  • Sliding down a slide while looking down
  • Riding in a car
  • Riding equipment such as teeter totters, escalators and elevators, etc.
  • These movements should be slow, rhythmic, and linear (one-direction).
  • Spinning activities (carousels, spinning toys, spinning around in circles)
  • Somersaults, hanging from feet
  • Roller coasters
  • Cartwheels
  • Running and skipping
  • Bouncing
  • Tapping pencils/pens
  • These movements should be fast/jerky, changing directions/angular movements, head inverting (down), moving on suspended equipment, and a visual should be added to it.
  • Push and pull activities
  • Carrying a backpack
  • Lifting items
  • Jumping on trampoline
  • Snapping snaps
  • Wrapping child in blanket
  • Popping bubble wrap
  • These activities should involve joint compression, slow stretching, heavy or sustained resistance, and slow alternating push/pull movements.
  • Shaking activities
  • Tapping activities
  • Active play activities such as roughhousing
  • Riding bike over gravel
  • Rolling neck and head
  • These activities should be fast paced, have quick/unexpected changes, jarring/jerking, and stop/start abruptly.
  • Deep pressure
  • Hugs
  • Tight clothing, shoes
  • Swimming, baths or showers
  • Walking barefoot
  • Twisting hair
  • Petting a dog/pet
  • These activities should involve tight wraps, arm stroking over large areas, be familiar and predictable, involve warm touch/temperature and smooth touch.
  • Light touch
  • Scratching activities
  • Using different textures
  • Messy play
  • Standing close to other people
  • Hair washing/brushing
  • Grooming activities
  • These activities should involve light touch, near face, head, or hair, have rough texture, and be cold in touch/temperature.
  • Watching a fireplace, fish tank, lava lamps
  • Dim lighting
  • Pale color lighting (blue, green, rose)
  • Organized space
  • Slow precise movement
  • These activities should be constant and rhythmic/pattern like, dim or dark, blue/green shades, familiar and predictable.
  • Bright white or yellow light
  • Opening shades
  • Flashlights/fluorescent lighting
  • Patterned and bold colors
  • Lots of movement and visual display
  • Involves uneven movements
  • Electronic games (ex. iPAD)
  • These activities should stimulate peripheral vision, involve bright colors/lights, changing or moving from unexpected sources, red/yellow shades or black and white.
  • *Beware of visual evoked seizures.*
  • Strong, even rhythm
  • Use of drums/cello/guitar are grounding
  • Soft quiet tones; nature noises
  • People humming/child humming
  • Even tons
  • Soft singing
  • These activities should be expected or familiar, quiet, and have a gentle rhythm.
  • Quick, sudden sound (ex. cough or sneeze)
  • Low frequency vibration
  • Narrow shrill-flutes
  • Unpredictable pattern in overtone
  • Changing pattern in overtone (ex. animal noises)
  • Rapid verbal directions such as Simon Says
  • These activities should be unexpected, loud, and complex or mixed.
Smell & Taste
  • Sucking on hard candy
  • Smelling vanilla, lavender, cedar wood
  • Crunching or sucking on ice pieces
  • Eating a popsicle
  • Chewing gum
  • Crunching on nuts/pretzels, chips, popcorn, veggies
  • Drinking warm milk/hot cocoa
  • Eating sweet foods
  • These activities should involve natural, pleasant scents and sweet tastes.
  • Drinking a carbonated drink
  • Smells such as peppermint, jasmine
  • Drinking a milkshake
  • Chewing spearmint gum
  • Eating citrus foods
  • Taking slow deep breaths
  • Eating spicy, salty, bitter or sour foods
  • These activities should involve smoky/sharp/tangy flavors or be noxious/unpleasant (smell).



Kids in Motion Pediatric Therapy clinic provides services in all areas from speech, occupational, and physical therapy to address the signs/symptoms stated above related to Sensory Diets. 



Speech therapy will help improve your child’s communication skills by learning verbal and/or nonverbal skills. A speech therapist will engage your child in a variety of auditory and verbal stimuli such as story books, picture cards, interactive games, actual objects, etc. using different approaches and techniques to improve language skills. A speech therapist can also teach the use of an augmentative communication devices, Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), and American Sign Language. These devices and techniques can improve communication by using pictures and symbols to ask and answer questions when interacting with others.

Occupational therapy will use creative therapeutic activities to increase independence and success in ADL, fine motor, visual motor, and sensory processing skills. Occupational therapist will introduce innovative methods to improve self-dressing, self-hygiene and self-feeding skills. Your child will engage in client centered activities to increase strength and coordination/control in hands and upper extremities to complete age appropriate fine motor and visual motor skills with greater success. Occupational therapist will demonstrate and educate family on variety of sensory diet strategies specific for your child’s needs to improve regulation to perform optimally in everyday activities.

Physical therapy will help improve your child’s strength, coordination, and balance through therapeutic exercise and activities to increase success in age appropriate gross motor skills. Child will also engage in tasks such as obstacle courses incorporating variety of gym equipment to improve motor planning skills. Physical therapist may target gait retraining if toe-walking is present by working on your child’s range of motion, strengthening and incorporating different sensory techniques. Consultation with an orthotist can also be provided if needed.

Still have questions and concerns?

We are committed to helping children of all abilities achieve and live their full potential. With experienced and compassionate Physical, Occupational and Speech Therapists and four locations to serve you, we feel confident that you will be more than satisfied with the care and support your child receives.  

Check out our free Interactive Online Screener – once completed, it will respond with ideas to help your child in the areas you specify they might be having trouble with or contact us at 248-684-9610.

2636 South Milford Road
United States