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Springtide seeks to reimagine the way individuals receive autism therapy and support. Learn what makes us different and how are results stack up against the competition.

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Springtide provides 1:1, personalized therapies, including ABA, speech, occupational and physical therapies. In addition, we offer social skills classes, functional living skills training, school readiness training, language acquisition and family coaching.

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We believe in a world where autism care isn't so complicated. We make it easy to get started with Springtide. After our initial call and intake, we carry the torch and do the heavy lifting for you.

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Our mission is to be the partner for families on their journey. We offer a wealth of resources to our current parents, as well as free resources for the community.

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Sensory Diets Part 1: Determining Your Child’s Sensory Input Needs

This is part of a 2-Part Series titled: "Building a Sensory Diet for Your Child With Autism". Part 1, below, deals with determining your child's sensory input needs. Part 2, which can be found here, deals more with setting up your daily schedule. Enjoy!

Building a Sensory Diet for Your Child

Whether you long for the comfort of a big comfy blanket at the end of the day, the smell of a certain candle brings you peace, or you dream about the thrill of the latest roller coaster at a local amusement park, all of us crave specific and differing types of sensory input.

For your child on the autism spectrum, those sensory needs are more urgent and extreme. Without their sensory needs being met, your child will likely experience increased dysregulation and under- or overstimulation throughout the day, resulting in more frequent meltdowns.

This is where a sensory diet comes in. A sensory diet is a daily schedule, put together by the parents with the help of an occupational therapist, to meet your child’s sensory input needs.

To begin the sometimes overwhelming process of formulating an effective sensory diet, you need to be able to identify your child’s unique needs. Then, you will be able to determine potential solutions. 

Proprioceptive Input

If your child craves deep pressure, is at times a little clumsy, struggles with balance, and can often be found jumping or crashing into things, they have proprioceptive input needs. Their body needs to feel more aware of itself in space. These children might benefit from;
  • a weighted vest or blanket
  • heavy lifting or resistance activities
  • tight hugs

Visual Input

For children with visual input needs, an abundance of visual stimulation can cause sensory overload. They may struggle with bright lights, avoid eye contact, or require some downtime after engaging with screens. These children will find comfort with:

  • dim lights
  • less design and decor on walls
  • a fort or tent 

On the other end, some children seek out additional visual input. They may spend time examining particular parts of an object, seek out spinning objects, or flap hands in front of their eyes. For those requiring this input, these may bring security:

  • sensory bottles
  • toys that light up or spin (or both!)
  • flashlight games

Auditory Input

A child who seeks more auditory input likely uses vocal self-stimulation, and often hums or makes noises. They might have trouble lowering their voice when necessary, and struggle with listening to directions. For these children, you might include the following in their sensory diet:

  • music of choice
  • sound machine
  • time playing instruments

Some struggle with loud noises, feeling overwhelmed and startled. For these children, noise-canceling headphones can help them manage this input.

Vestibular Input

If your child is seeking vestibular movement, they tend to like everything fast-paced and are constantly in motion. They love swinging, jumping, hanging upside down, and spinning. If your child craves these movements, include these while building their sensory diet:

  • swings
  • wobble stools, yoga balls, or bouncy seats 
  • jumping on a trampoline

Tactile Input

Our tactile system is the way we perceive information through our skin. A child who needs more tactile input, and has an under-responsive tactile system, is one who is constantly touching and getting into things, or touching other people. They would benefit from the following activities:

  • sensory bins
  • putty
  • fidget toys
  • time outside in dirt or grass

Alternatively, some children feel overwhelmed with tactile input. These children will often protest certain clothing materials, or the feeling of different textures. There is both adaptive, tagless, and seamless clothing available to help with these challenges.

Oral Input

Children who have oral input needs often put non-edible items in their mouths past a typical age. They have a routine urge to chew or bite in order to stay regulated. For these children, the following is important to include in a sensory diet:

  • chew sticks or necklaces
  • crunchy or chewy snacks
  • drinking thick smoothies or milkshakes from a straw

Spend time reflecting on your child’s behaviors and what types of inputs you see them craving throughout the day. Your child’s occupational therapist will have some ideas as well. Using that information, you will have some thoughts on what your child’s sensory diet will include. The next blog will let you know how to use the information you’ve gathered to create a routine sensory diet for your child.

If you have questions about sensory needs or how we address them at Springtide, reach out here.

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Springtide Child Development was awarded an Award of Distinction with The Behavioral Health Center of Excellence (BHCOE) and is a member of The Council of Autism Service Providers (CASP). These awards celebrate exceptional special needs providers that are leading the way in the areas of clinical quality, staff satisfaction, qualifications, and consumer satisfaction.
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