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Sensory Diets and Activities

A person with sensory processing concerns may have difficulty modulating sensory input from one or more sensory systems. Sensory processing systems include proprioception (force/position in space), vestibular (direction/speed of movement), tactile (touch), visual (eyes), auditory (sound), gustatory (taste), and olfactory (smell).

Ineffective sensory processing skills can cause significant challenges for completing activities of daily living, engaging in school and leisure activities, and maintaining relationships and friendships.

A “Sensory diet” can help address these concerns. A sensory diet is essentially a list of a variety of sensory-rich activities that are meaningful to your child and assist them with regulating their sensory systems and sensory processing skills. These diets also include strategies and activities to help maintain your child’s optimal arousal levels.

It is important to remember that each child’s sensory diet will be different and tailored to fit each individual child’s arousal levels and sensory thresholds. Discuss your concerns with your therapist and work closely with them to configure what is the specific sensory diet that would best assist and regulate your child.

Some examples of sensory diets/activities include:


  • pulling/pushing a wagon or heavy objects
  • jumping on a trampoline
  • climbing on playground equipment
  • bear hugs
  • wall push-ups, chair push-ups, or floor push-ups


  • swinging on a hammock
  • playing on a Merry-Go-Round
  • jumping jacks
  • rolling on the floor or down a hill
  • spinning (sit n’ spin)


  • finger paints
  • play dough or clay
  • sensory bins with dry rice, beans, corn, lentils, other dry materials
  • skin massage with or without lotion
  • soft, fluffy blankets


  • listening to music
  • playing sound Bingo game
  • noise cancelling headphones
  • musical instruments: tambourine, piano, bells, cymbals, drum, etc.
  • sound machine


  • exploring different textures (smooth, lumpy, chewy, crunchy, etc.)
  • using cookie cutters to make cheese slice creations
  • scratch and sniff stickers
  • chewing gum
  • flavored lip balms

-Amelia Calilung, MS, OTR/L