Sensory Fashion & Sensory Bin Experts Reveal the Power of ‘Heavy Work Activities’ for Academic & Behavior Success.

Have you ever wondered why some kids struggle to stay seated or feel overwhelmed by bright lights and loud noises? Here’s an eye-opener: about 16.5% of children aged 7 to 11 exhibit an elevated response to auditory and tactile sensory stimuli. Sensory processing issues are more prevalent than you might have realised, creating hurdles for a child’s academic journey.

We’ve contacted Jennifer Stalley, founder and president of Meemzy Magic and a long-time believer in the power of play for all ages, and Julia DeNay, founder of Sense-Ational You, who share valuable sensory tips to enhance every child’s learning experience and what to look for to identify sensory overload. 

Identifying Sensory Overload

It’s important to be aware of the signs of sensory processing overload in children, as they may display a range of behaviours. It’s worth noting that these behaviours can differ between individuals, and not every child will exhibit the same signs. Some common indicators to look out for include:

  • Agitation or irritability
  • Overstimulation avoidance (covering ears, closing eyes)
  • Sensory-seeking behaviours (touching, squeezing, running into things)
  • Difficulty with transitions (often appears like a meltdown or a tantrum)
  • Hyperactivity or restlessness
  • Poor attention and concentration
  • Physical discomfort complaints
  • Withdrawal or shutdown

“Heavy Work” Activities to Regain Sensory Stability

Wall or Chair Push Ups

DeNay suggests elevating regular exercises into a vertical challenge, simultaneously building upper body strength. Hold onto your chair, place your hands beneath your bottom, and lift your body slightly off the chair for a few seconds, then repeat.

Animal Walks

“Unleash the wild side with fun, animal-inspired movements that promote fitness, balance, and coordination,” says DeNay. These movements contribute to spatial awareness by engaging joints and providing sensory feedback.

Playground Activities

Foster muscle and joint engagement by climbing monkey bars, ascending slides, or taking turns pushing their peers on the swings, comments DeNay. Not only will they work on regaining their sense but they will also work on social skills. 

Star Jumps/Jumping Jacks

DeNay says, “These dynamic moves redirect energy by boosting coordination and focus. Jump feet apart while lifting arms overhead, then repeat.”

Go For Walks Carrying a Heavy Item

Don’t underestimate the power of taking a walk in nature. DeNay offers a simple solution of carrying a heavy item or filling a backpack with books to give it weight while walking. 

Heavy Arts and Crafts

Squeeze and roll playdough for enhanced hand strength and sensory delight. Stalley suggests, “Enhance your child’s sensory experience by incorporating sensory bins filled with textures like rice or beans, promoting comprehensive tactile engagement.”

Garden Work

Stalley comments on exploring nature with therapeutic tactile activities like pushing a wheelbarrow, pulling weeds, or digging in the dirt for an immersive sensory experience. Or use a sandbox sensory bin to allow kids to dive into their tactile senses. 

Sitting on a Small Therapy Ball

Stalley says therapy balls are a great way to give children the sensory input they need. Add a fun bounce to routine sitting, providing essential sensory input for regulation and body awareness.

Weighted Lap Pad or Vest

“Craft a DIY sensory solution for comfort and concentration,” says Stalley. Fill a pillowcase or ½ yards of fabric with dry rice or beans to create a weighted lap pad. Ensure it’s 10-15% of the child’s body weight, never exceeding 15%.

Try these easy and adaptable tasks to help children regain their senses during sensory breaks or in between assignments. 

Featured Photo by Ben White on Unsplash.

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