OT Time!

Sensory Strategies


Different types of activities can help with different types of sensory modulation difficulties: seeking/craving, over-responsiveness, under responsiveness

Heavy Work activities often help those with sensory seeking/craving behaviors, can have a calming or alerting effect

Sensory Calming activities typically help those with sensory over-responsive or sensory seeking/craving behaviors.

Sensory Alerting activities usually help those with sensory under-responsive behaviors.

Give these activities a try at home to aid in your child’s self-regulation!


Heavy Work Activities

  • Helping in kitchen
    • Mix/stir
    • Roll out dough
    • Gather supplies
    • Wipe down table
  • Daily chores
    • Take out trash
    • Carry grocery bags
    • Vacuum/dust
  • Weighted blankets
  • Spandex (tight fitted clothes)
  • Read a book in a bean bag chair
  • Jump on  a trampoline
  • Ride a bike with a helmet
  • Push/pull a loaded wagon
  • Swings and playground equipment (monkey bars)
  • Bean bag squishes
  • Throw/catch heavy items
  • Fidget toys (squeeze ball/putty)
  • Eating crunchy, chewy foods
  • Sliding
  • Rolling down a hill

* Many of these activities can be a naturally occurring part of your child’s day. The activity itself should be short (5-10 minutes), occurring every 1 ½ - 2 hours.


Sensory Calming Activities

  • Noise cancelling headphones
  • Dim lighting
  • Warm bath
  • Deep pressure, such as bear hugs and massages
  • Weighted blankets or stuffed animals
  • Stretching
  • Slow, rhythmic movements (i.e., rocking chair)
  • Smelling “calm” smells (i.e., vanilla)
  • Sucking through straws
  • Laying in a bean bag chair
  • Squeezing a stress ball or playdough
  • Hiding in a fort
  • Fidget toys
  • Joint compression activities (i.e., finger pulling)
  • White noise or quiet music with a steady beat
  • Sensory “calming” bottles
  • Yoga


Sensory Alerting Activities

  • Cold drinks
  • Crunchy and/or sour foods
  • Bright lighting
  • Loud, fast-paced music
  • Movement activities (i.e., jumping, running, climbing)
  • Jumping on a trampoline
  • Bouncing on a therapy ball
  • Controlled spinning
  • Walking on an uneven surface
  • Vibrations on the arm, hand, or back
  • Playing with messy textures



Every child is different! What may work for one child may not work for another. It is important to trial several strategies in order to find what works best for your child. Do not become discouraged if a specific strategy does not help!


Check out our “Sensory Tools” board on the ACES Extension Therapy Services Pinterest page for more ideas! Search: acesets


Specific questions or comments?

Contact your school’s occupational therapist!


Information Compiled by Melissa Lavorgna, MOT, OTR/L


This information can also be downloaded as a printable handout.