The JumpTherapy Blog:
Sensory Processing, Motor and Social Skills Resources
for Parents of Special Needs Children

Your Son Is Not a Gingerbread Boy

Why we don’t take a “cookie cutter” approach to SPD therapy:

every child is unique and needs a unique strategy

Part 3 of 3: Your Strategies, an Overview

gingerbread boy unique final

Your goal and process (a short review)
If you refer back to our graphic of a Sensory Processing Disorder Library, you can see at a glance how many different types of processing disorders there are, each one with many different sets of behaviors and responses. So it makes perfect sense that there is no one single approach to therapy that will work for every child. Different strategies will calm, or stimulate, different children. What may be organizing for one child may be very disorganizing for another. This is why we have to be so careful about not taking a “cookie cutter” approach to therapy.

A brief overview of Sensory Integration strategies
Here is a quick look at the different categories of calming and alerting activities you can engage in together with your child, as well as ways you can adapt his or her environment. We will examine them in much more detail in upcoming posts.

Calming activities
– Gentle, slow rocking or swinging
– Massage, deep pressure, compression or hugs
– Breathing activities
– Mouth comforts such as sucking or chewing, drinking through a straw
– Heavy work for the body such as wearing a weighted backpack, playing with push-and-pull toys and games, squeezing a foam ball, etc.
– Therapeutic body brushing
– Lowering your voice
– Retreating to a quiet, comfortable space (a calming environment)

Calming environment
Adapt the environment to be soothing: paint a room in cool, calm colors; eliminate visual distractions and bright colors; remove excess toys; lower the lighting; eliminate noise; put on classical music or anything with a steady beat that soothes your child.

Include regular calming, regenerating times during the day to help your child stay in the “ideally balanced” emotional state and be better able to cope with triggers.

Alerting activities
– Any movement activities that engage your child and “wake the body up”
– Jumping
– Swinging
– Bouncing
– Fast rocking
– Exercising
– Stacking objects
– Playing on a playground
– Going into a stimulating space (an alerting environment)

Alerting environment
Take your child into a well-lit room with bright colors and interesting visuals on the walls. Introduce plenty of engaging toys and games. Put on music with a fast beat. Eat sour or spicy foods.

Regularly engage your child in enjoyable, sensory-stimulating activities to help him or her stay in the “ideally balanced” emotional state and not withdraw.

Other strategies
We will explore many other regulating techniques such as:
– Using stories to give your child perspective about a situation and how to manage it
– Redirection
– Easing transitions
– Play, movement, art, and music therapy
– Hands-on sensory activities (using finger paints, shaving cream, play dough, etc.)
– Making sensory-based snacks
– Teaching your child how to increase self-awareness of his/her emotional state and learn to self-regulate
– Integrating a “sensory diet” (which is a group of activities) into your child’s daily play in order to supply the sensory input s/he needs in order to maintain the “ideally balanced” state

Looking ahead:
In upcoming posts, we will thoroughly analyze the various techniques, activities, and tools you will build up in your backpack of strategies to help regulate the different calming and alerting needs of your sensory children.

Are there techniques you are particularly interested in exploring? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below. Also, let me know there or via email what topics you would like to discuss or hear more about.

Feel free to share or quote from this blog (with attribution, please, and if possible, a link), and to repost on social media.

I look forward to hearing from you!


All the best,

About Miriam:
Miriam Skydell MS, OTR/L is a pediatric OT with 30 years experience and a strong commitment to empowering every child and every family with the skills, confidence and emotional stability necessary for a meaningful, independent life. In addition to her Masters degree from NYU (1986) and membership in the AOTA (American Occupational Therapy Association), Miriam is a licensed Interactive Metronome®,  HWT (Handwriting Without Tears®), and TLP (The Listening Program®) provider.

Miriam performs preschool screenings, contracts experienced OTs, PTs and STs to schools, helped implement the HWT curriculum, and lectures extensively for parent and support groups and at teacher conferences for public and private schools throughout New Jersey. Through her private practice in Fair Lawn, Miriam Skydell and Associates, established in 1995, Miriam has helped countless children with a wide range of diagnoses improve functional living skills, manage the impact of sensory processing dysfunction, and meet their individual potentials.