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The Sensory Checklist & Sensory Diet Activities

A sensory diet is a carefully designed set of sensory activities created by an occupational therapist to support an individual’s sensory needs and help with sensory processing challenges.

In other words, it’s a prescription for individualized sensory activities based on your child’s needs in the same way a medical doctor would prescribe medication.

Find Personalized Sensory Diet Activities for Your Child Based on The Sensory Checklist

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

I know it’s not possible for everyone to access a pediatric occupational therapist for them to evaluate and work with your child to develop a sensory diet.

This guide and checklist do not replace the work of an OT. But, parents can use this checklist at home to get a better picture of their child’s sensory profile and then match them with activities that may be helpful.

Types of Sensory Issues in Children

An estimated 1 in 6 children experiences sensory issues with at least one of the sensory systems. This doesn’t mean that they all have a sensory processing disorder, but problems with sensory integration can be quite common in childhood.

Plus, 98% of children with autism have sensory issues. It’s one of the hallmark symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder.

There are four types of sensory issues that children can experience

  • Sensory Modulation – The brain either over-responds or under-responds to information
  • Discrimination and Perception – the brain struggles to interpret sensory information or giving meaning to the information
  • Vestibular Bilateral Functional Problems – Problems related specifically to the vestibular system and coordinating the two sides of the body
  • Praxis Problems – Praxis means how the body plans and executes motor movements that it has not done before

The sensory checklist focuses on identifying and providing solutions specifically for sensory modulation challenges.

Sensory Modulation

Efficient sensory modulation means you can regulate the degree to which various sensory inputs influence you. When children have sensory modulation challenges, they cannot regulate this.

If their brain over-responds to sensory input, they’ll display sensory avoidance behaviors. This is because they will experience this sensory input very intensely and it’s often uncomfortable.

If their brain under-responds to sensory input, they’ll display sensory seeking behaviors. They will seek extra sensory stimulation in an attempt to balance and regulate their senses.

Children can have a combination of sensory seeking and sensory avoiding difficulties. It can vary depending on the sensory system, or the type of sensory input received. For example, a child could be a sensory seeker for soft touch but avoid firm touch.

The Sensory Checklist

sensory diet activities list

This Sensory Checklist is from the book Raising a Sensory Smart Child by Lindsey Biel.

The checklist makes various statements related to each of the sensory systems that you must answer “seeks,” “avoids,” “mixed,” or “neutral.”

Once you’ve answered all the statements, you’ll have a good idea about what types of sensory challenges your child is experiencing. Then you can refer to the list below to find sensory diet activities for your child’s unique sensory profile.

Sensory Diet Activities

Toggle through the lists below to find sensory diet activities and solutions depending on your answers on The Sensory Checklist. You can also read the full articles about how each sensory system works.

Generally speaking, you should spend about 10 minutes doing sensory activities every few hours and the positive effects last until the next activity.

Auditory

To learn more about the auditory system visit: The Auditory System: How it Works and Signs of Auditory Processing Issues

Visual

Learn more about the visual system visit: Visual Sensory Processing

Touch

Your responses to this section may have been a little more varied. That’s because six different types of sensory receptors sense different types of touch. So, you may have mixed responses because your child may be a seeker of some forms of tactile input and an avoider of others.

Try different sensory strategies to find what works best.

To learn more about this system, visit: The Tactile System: How it Works & Signs of Problems

Smell and Taste

Smell and taste are grouped because they’re so closely related to each other. They’re both known as “chemical senses” because the sensory receptors receive messages from the molecular particles when they come in contact with them.

Learn more about how the sense of smell works here: The Olfactory System. For more information about the sense of taste, visit: The Oral Motor System & Gustatory System

Proprioception

Learn about proprioception and how the proprioceptive system works here: How Does the Proprioceptive System Work?

Vestibular

The vestibular system is one that I focus on a lot. When it’s dysregulated, the vestibular system usually causes behavior problems. When this is the case, parents often misunderstand their child’s behavior. Learn how it works here: The Vestibular System


Sensory processing is a spectrum and varies from one person to the next. It can also change depending on your mood, how you slept, and which environment you’re in.

Hopefully, this guide has helped you gain a better understand of your child’s sensory needs and find helpful sensory diet activities to improve self-regulation.

sensory diet activities and check list

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  1. […] Of course, the equipment is the heart of the room. You want to choose equipment that is durable and supports your child’s unique sensory needs. […]

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