Tailor Made Sensory Diets


What is a Sensory-diet?

A Sensory diet is a diet or programme of sensory activities that can be created for the child to help him/her to feel calmer, more regulated and in the optimum place sensory-wise to learn.

The term ‘Sensory-diet’ was originally coined by two famous American Occupational Therapists – Patti and Julia Wilbarger.

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Getting started

  1. The best way to develop a good sensory-diet for a child is to observe the child over a period of a number of days at school.
  2. Observe the child at different points over the period of the school day eg first thing in the morning, at break-time, at lunch-time, after lunch and before going home.
  3. Indicate where they are at on a graph in terms of regulation levels eg how is Charlie when he comes into school in the morning? Is he over- stimulated/alert or under-alert or ‘just right’.
  4. Identify the times when Charlie is over or under- alert as these are the periods/times of dysregulation when Charlie is not learning at his optimum.
  5. Once these times of dysregulation are identified then we need to put in specific sensory-diet activities approximately 10-20 minutes before the periods of dysregulation so that Charlie stays regulated and focused for a longer period of time.
  6. We can identify what sensory-diet activities to add in by looking at what sensory activities were recommended above.
  7. Keep in mind some sensory activities are stimulating which is great for a child who is under-processing or under alert and these activities bring a child up into the ‘just right’ range of calmness for llearning.
  8. Other sensory activities are calming and will help a child who is over-stimulated/over alert. Proprioceptive activities are calming and organising and should be mixed into a child’s sensory-diet/programme.
  9. Please find below a list of Proprioceptive/Heavy-work activities to add into a child’s sensory programme/diet.
  10. A sensory-diet should be carried out over a period of at least 4-6 weeks to give the child an opportunity to develop a routine of calmness, regulation and optimum learning.
  11. The sensory programme should continue for up to two months and longer to help the child to remain calm, focused and learning language


How to develop a Sensory-diet for a child in your class?

We are now at the point where you can create your own ‘tailor-made’ sensory-diet/programme for the child that you are working with.
Please use activities that will suit the child that you are working with from the relevant sections below.
Always combine Proprioceptive activities which are calming and organising for the child.

Please find examples of some sensory-diets that we have already created for you in the Resources section.

Download Sensory Diet Programmes

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