My son is a tornado. He moves from one activity to the next, and I’m sure dumping out toys could be added to his resume as a “strength.” The kid doesn’t stop moving from the time he wakes up until the time he goes to bed. Over the past few years, I have had to find ways to help him manage his insatiable need for speed. It’s been a tough undertaking because he’s a sensory seeker. Most children and boys like to move, but children that are vestibular and proprioception seekers feel the need to move, jump, crash and feel their bodies against the world. It is a need that will overtake all of their senses and their abilities to reason correctly. In our home, we have had to find ways to harness his energy in positive directions, and most importantly to help him stay regulated.
When we started our son in therapy, he was behind in his gross and fine motor skills. However, one of his largest areas of concern for his father and I was his inability to sit still. It was important for us to be able to implement strategies at home for him to get his energy out without always jumping off of things or putting himself in danger. We worked with his occupational therapists to develop a sensory diet for him to help him manage his sensory overload. As we have implemented these strategies at home, he can get out his need to move while staying safe. We have found when his sensory system is better regulated his behavior improves. If you have a child that needs speed, likes to touch everything, and loves to jump or crash, I have a few simple suggestions for you to have at home.
- Buy A Swing
My son has loved being in a swing since he was a baby. He used to fall asleep in his swing as an infant, and many times it was the only way he slept through the night. That need for movement and rocking has not changed as he has grown older. We have a swing we use in the back yard. He generally will swing for up to an hour a day. It is the number 1 way we can calm his behavior, and he is always happiest in his swing. This coming winter we will be working to install an indoor swing for his swinging needs. There are a ton of options for swings – but the this is a swing we are considering to bring into our home OUTREE Kids Pod Swing Seat Hammock&xFF0C;100% cotton Child Hammock Chair for Indoor and Outdoor use (blue)
- Get a Trampoline
Children that seek vestibular movement love to jump. Jumping and crashing helps the body feel itself in space and get a sense of where it is in the world. A trampoline can help a child that seeks in both vestibular and proprioception areas. The child can jump and bounce, and they can also use the trampoline to crash. The movement can help calm a child as they feel their body in space. When our son starts to throw things or stop listening, instead of giving him a time out I will get out his trampoline and let him know he needs to start jumping. He will jump for a period, and typically after he has jumped and crashed his behavior will improve. The good news is if your child is young, you don’t need to purchase a large trampoline. Many smaller trampolines can be used indoors. We have a trampoline that looks like this:
- Make or Buy a Crash Pad
Crashing is a favorite pastime for my son. He has been crashing and jumping off things since he was a baby. We have had to find ways for him to do this safely while not breaking bones. His therapists helped me come up with solutions for the home. The easiest and cheapest way I’ve found to do this is by stacking up pillows in a pile. I pick decorative pillows, bed pillows, and cushions from the couch. I drape a blanket over the pillows, and I let him get a running start to jump and crash into the pillows. This method is used nearly every day in our home, and he loves it. He gets the input from the soft textures of the pillows and can play with the blanket after he lands. We know as he gets older we will need to buy something larger for him to jump on, and this crash pad is on my current wishlist.
- Buy or make a sensory bin
It is tough for me to get my son to sit still for any length of time. However, one way I have managed to get him to explore new textures while also remaining calm is by making sensory bins. The great thing about sensory bins is you can make these pretty inexpensively with items you have in your home, or you can take a quick trip to the dollar store to make one. My son and I went to Dollar Tree and picked out items from the toy section like little animals, insects, vehicles, marbles, rocks, and different fidgets. Then we bought rice, black beans, and lentil beans. I bought a large container to mix it all in, and he has added toys from home to his bin as he desires. Many days I will see him burying his monster trucks in there, working on fine motor skills by using tongs to pick up marbles, or searching for the toys in the mixture. Sensory bins can be swapped out over time, and you can use sand, water, shaving cream, soap, rocks, pebbles, or even rocks used in fish aquariums as a base. Then add whatever toys you want to the box. If you are less than creative, which is fine, there are great options for sensory bins on Amazon. I have a friend that has this box, and my son plays with it every time he goes to her house.
There are endless options for keeping your sensory seeker happy. The biggest thing to remember is helping to keep them regulated will help them cope better with the world around them. As parents, it is our job to recognize when a child is being naughty or simply overwhelmed. There is a time to discipline, and there is a time to help regulate their sensory system. With a few of these ideas, you should be able to help your child stay safe while also satisfying their need to move.
We want to know what your favorite sensory toys or strategies for your seeker. Please comment below with your favorite items!