Sensory Diet / Sensory Lifestyle

What is a Sensory Diet or Sensory Lifestyle?

A sensory diet, otherwise known as a sensory lifestyle is a planned and scheduled activity regime that encourages a variety of sensations to be experienced throughout the day. As with a food diet, where children need to eat regularly throughout the day to maintain their energy and focus, so a sensory diet provides specific sensory experiences, tailored to the child, that are implemented regularly throughout the day with the aim to help the child feel calm, alert and organized most of the time.

It can be used to:

  • help a child who has a low arousal level “wake up” and be more alert
  • help a child who seems to always be on the move or anxious calm down
  • help a child  who is “all over the place” be more organized
  • help a child who battles to concentrate and complete tasks appropriately, focus on their work

Sensory activities are tailored to the child’s sensory needs and often include:

  • Movement
  • Heavy work of joints and muscles (Proprioception)
  • Visual stimulation (looking)
  • Oral stimulation (mouth fidgets)
  • Deep pressure touch to whole body
  • Deep pressure touch for hands (hand fidgets)
  • Auditory Stimulation (hearing)
  • Smell

Sensory activities are known to have a lasting calming and organizing effect on the nervous system. For example, the effect of engaging in an activity that requires whole body movement where the muscles are engaged in hard work can last for approximately 2 hrs. This also applies to deep pressure on the skin such as massage whereas slow rhythmical movements can have a calming effect for up to 6 hrs.