Autism and sensory issues go hand in hand.
Kids seek or avoid sensory input depending on how it affects them Some input makes them unable to process what’s going on around them while another type can help. This is why kids stim; the positive sensory input makes them feel more able to handle what’s going on around them.
My son is a sensory seeker.
In Occupational Therapy sessions, they gave him all sorts of ways to get this input. By the time D1 was 4 or 5, he had instinctual and therapeutic methods for gaining this deep muscle stimulation, or “heavy work”, as the OT called it.
One of the most common things that parents of sensory seekers say is that their kids enjoy rolling on the floor, down hills, and on beds. Other kids will repeatedly bump into things, as if they can’t feel them unless there is direct physical contact. It is quite possible that they can’t, at least not like you and I can. Even toddlers will exhibit these sensory-seeking behaviors, and it can be very cute when they’re little.
As my son grew and worked with his OT three times a week, he learned different ways to get that input, without accidentally knocking things over in the house. If you have a sensory seeker who loves deep pressure and heavy work, the list below is by no means exhaustive, but it will give you some ways to help him get what he needs.
Ways kids can get heavy sensory input:
Push-ups and sit-ups, which he can do quickly on an as-needed basis.
- Jumping on a trampoline- D1 memorized spelling words while jumping on our mini trampoline.
Animal crawls and walks such as bear crawl, inchworm, cheetah crawl, crab walk, bunny hops, and kangaroo hops give them deep pressure and lots of good bodyweight resistance. Incidentally, I do many of these almost daily at my HIIT gym. They are fantastic exercise!
Standing on their heads against a wall creates an entire new sensory experience that some kids just LOVE.
Digging holes in the garden with a full sized shovel, if you can deal with the holes or spare the space.
Pushing or lifting furniture or other heavy objects. When D1 was about 18 months old, he would lift up the coffee table which temporarily earned him the nickname “Bam-Bam”.
Spinning around, either on their own two feet, using a Sit & Spin toy, or on a rope or swing. Swinging would fall into this category too but spinning has a much more intense feeling that just swinging.
Rolling on the floor or down a hill, or being quickly rolled up in a blanket or something.
Weighted clothing or blankets are helpful for kids who struggle to feel where their bodies are in space. They are easily made by adding pockets of fabric inside of vests, jackets, or pants and stitching marbles or pennies into them. Weighted blankets are also easily made this way. You can order specialized ones from an Occupational Therapy office, or purchase a weighted vest from National Autism Resources.
You can use sensory seeking behavior to help your kids attend better to their school work.
What is your child’s favorite way to get sensory stimulation?