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Sensory Strategies for Speech and Language!

Easy sensory ideas for therapy and play at home.

How can I incorporate sensory play into playtime and therapy? 

My therapist doesn’t make my child stay at the table! Should they be?!

How can my child learn if they’re moving all the time?!

Meeting a child’s sensory needs is SO important! The way a child receives, processes and interprets sensory information, affects the way they develop, learn and behave. 

When we incorporate sensory activities into therapy, we are helping a child to regulate. Therefore, they have the capacity to take on the learning.

So, what are the senses?

Every person has a sensory system. We have 7 sensory systems, which receive information from the environment, and send it to the brain to process, and then turn into appropriate motor and behavioural responses. 

It’s important that the child’s brain regulates sensory input. This means, that the body can achieve an appropriate level of alertness. This in turn, supports learning and development. When we help the child regulate, we help them to be in a ‘ready state for learning’. 

You might have heard of 5 of the senses; tactile, visual, auditory, gustatory, and olfactory. There are also three less commonly known ones; proprioception, interoception and vestibular

The 5 basic sensory systems are ‘external’. This means they process the information we get from the environment around us:

  • Tactile aka touch
  •  Visual aka sight
  • Auditory aka hearing
  • Gustatory aka taste
  • Olfactory aka smell

The other 3 are internal systems. This means that they process information from our own bodies:

  • Proprioception is body position and awareness
  • Vestibular is balance and movement
  • Interoception is internal physiological body conditions (e.g. hunger, toileting needs)

What are the power senses?

While all the systems are important, there’s 3 big ones that we should focus on. If these three aren’t doing their job, then the other senses can’t work properly 

Tactile, vestibular and proprioception!

What can I do?!

What can I do for tactile?

  • Sensory trays
  • Slime
  • Playdough
  • Shaving Foam
  • Water Play
  • Touch and feel books
  • Chew toys/necklaces, gum and snack foods. 

What can I do for vestibular?:

  • Swinging
  • Spinning
  • Animal walks
  • Obstacle Courses
  • Scooter boards
  • Swiss Balls
  • Mini Trampolines

What can I do for Proprioception?:

  • Resistance play with clay or thera-putty
  • ‘Heavy’ work
  • ‘Burrito’ rolls (rolling up in a blanket), squishing under pillows
  • Massage
  • Jumping
Burrito roll- sensory activity to support vestibular

As you can imagine, incorporating sensory and movement into therapy is ultimately beneficial! Don’t be worried if your child needs to move! Your Speech and Language Therapist should follow your child’s lead, use different strategies to support your child, and create an individualised program to suit their interests and needs!

Are you wondering if Speech and Language Therapy with Finding Voices might be the right fit for you? Contact us today for a no obligations chat with one of our friendly speech and language therapists!