Toolkit: Sensory Awareness at Home

Without buying any expensive toys, you can create a fun, sensory-rich environment in your own home! Try these suggestions and enjoy watching your child explore and develop her sensory system. Follow her lead though. She might resist doing some of these activities, so respect her right to choose what she will do. You don’t want your child to be over-stimulated by an activity. At the end of this article, you’ll find ideas for making changes in the home environment to help your child with activities that she may be hypersensitive to.

Chores: Provide sensory input by having your child help with chores such as:

  • Gardening: raking leaves, digging, planting, watering, or pulling weeds
  • Brushing or bathing the dog
  • Washing the car
  • Pushing the baby’s stroller, vacuum cleaner, or grocery basket
  • Carrying the laundry basket to her room
  • Helping carry the heavy groceries into the house and unload items

Mealtimes: Encourage sensory exploration with kitchen activities such as:

  • Pouring items into measuring cups
  • Mixing ingredients by hand
  • Putting flour on her hands, and letting her roll and knead dough
  • Drinking from straws, especially thick liquids like smoothies
  • Experiencing a variety of tastes: sour lemons, spicy items, or tangy fruits
  • Making cut-out cookies and decorating them with sticky frostings, sprinkles, and other textured items
  • Squeezing icing from an icing bag to decorate a cake

Bath time:

  • Letting your child scrub herself with soap and a washcloth
  • Writing on the bath tub wall with shaving cream or bath foam
  • Massaging your child with massage lotion after bath or letting her rub in lotion

Try this if your child has difficulty with:

  • Noises: Switch to an alarm clock and phones that have rings that start softly and gradually increase in volume. Give your child warning before you vacuum or use noisy kitchen appliances. Do not leave the television or radio on when not in use.
  • Dressing: Purchase soft, cotton clothing with soft waistbands and as few seams as possible. Opt for clothing without tags or remove the tags if they bother your child.
  • Bathing: Your child may prefer a shower to a bath or vice versa. Experiment with both to see which one is more comfortable. If your child does not like the sensation of water in her eyes or face, rinse hair while she’s lying back in the tub or with a handheld shower head. Some children like to wear a visor while rinsing hair to keep water off the face.