Sensory Diet Plans for Teens & Adults
Planning a Sensory Diet for a Teen or Adult
Proprioceptive input (registered in receptors in the joints, muscles and connective tissues) provides body awareness. It can be obtained by heavy work: lifting, pushing, and pulling heavy objects, including one’s own weight. You can also stimulate the proprioceptive sense by engaging in activities that push joints together, such as doing pushups, or pulling joints apart by hanging from a chin up bar or throwing objects or hitting something.
Heavy lifting. Teens and adults can shovel snow or lift free weights.Push, pull, and carry. Ways to get heavy work include raking leaves, pushing heavy objects such as firewood in a wheelbarrow, wearing a heavy knapsack (not too heavy!) or pulling a luggage-cart style backpack with wheels, rowing a boat, or mowing the lawn with a push mower.
Reassuring deep pressure. Deep pressure against the skin, combined with stimulating the receptors in the joints, can be very calming as well. You might get a firm massage, wear tight clothes (alone or under looser clothing), or sleep under a heavy blanket.
Vestibular input (the sense of movement, centered in the inner ear). Any type of movement will stimulate the vestibular receptors, but spinning, swinging, and hanging upside down provide the most intense, longest lasting input. If you have vestibular (movement) sensitivities, please work closely with a sensory smart OT who can help you recognize and prevent signs of nervous system overload.
Swinging and spinning. Swing on a hammock, spin on an office chair, or use playground swings or merry-go-round (you’re never too old!).
Hang upside down. Do yoga inversions or positions that involve having your head upside down or nearly so. Use an inversion table. Do cartwheels and swim (doing flip turns and somersaults in the water).
Dance. Folk, hip hop, classical, jazz, belly--whatever the form, dance provides vestibular input (as well as proprioceptive).
Use your hands to create something. Sculpt, sew, weave, crochet or knit. Create a scrapbook (which involves lots of pasting and working with different textures). Use sandpaper to smooth a woodworking project. Make things out of clay, and try using a potter’s wheel. Cook, touching slippery and gritty ingredients with your hands.
If you can, work with an OT if you can to customize the sensory diet.
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