5 reasons sensory integration should be your lifestlye

At my workplace, we suggest parents to bring their kids to therapy twice a week. We do an individual evaluation so the frequency is not the same for all the kids, but in most cases it turns out to be twice a week. The sensory room is big, has many things and it can be a lot for certain kids to handle. But that’s therapy. And it’s great. But if you ask me, sensory integration should be looked at as lifestyle. No matter if your child is “healthy” (of a typical development), or has some developmental difficulties. Two hours a week is simply not enough. Just knowing a thing or two about what it is and how kids respond to the stimuli can give you a lot of insight into why kids do things the way they do. For instance, why do kids walk on the arm rests and frames of your living room couch, why they slide down 100 times and still want more, why they can spin around in the park for 5 minutes and you want to puke just by looking at them?

  1. If parents knew just a little bit about the SI, it would not be such a mystery and I am sure parenting would be even a bigger joy. It is to me, anyway.
  2. I love seeing my little boy exploring his body. I don’t get all first-time-nervous-mom on him, but I am a relaxed parent as I understand what my baby is going through.
  3. SI is great for your child but is also good for you. Your brain is not as easy to “change” as the child’s, but is not impossible. When I started working in the sensory room I would get nauseas within three to four rounds on the swing and now I can do at least 10. I also couldn’t write texts or read messages on my phone while in the moving bus, and now I have no issues with that whatsoever.
  4. Other than that, as a parent you get more creative because you need to find ways to offer your child the stimuli they need in different ways: e.g. Proprioceptive stimulus can be acquired by jumping, rolling, pressing, bouncing off of something such as a mat.

    acquired from: kikisclinic.co.uk
  5. Last, but definitely not the least is the fact that one or two hours a week is really not suffice. Can’t emphasize that enough.

And that old excuse “I don’t have so much time to play with my child because I have to ____________ (enter your reason why)” is not applicable any more if you make SI your lifestyle. Because if you live SI, then you do it all the time, becomes a way of living and communicating. But have in mind that even if you apply the SI concepts, you should still be the child’s parent and go for the hour or two of therapy with a professional. Doing it at home does not mean stopping it with the professionals by any means.

And remember, it should be fun! :)

Baby on board – the sea!

I am not very traditional, but the one tradition I am going to turn the world upside down for is going to the seaside in the summer. The air on the island is clean, the flora is amazingly beautiful, colorful and scented, people lead a calmer life here and above it all is – the sea! It is blue and green, so crispy clear and clean, of a perfect temperature for one to refresh him or herself and it just heals me inside out; it charges my batteries.



This year is moreover special as I am bringing my son to this particular place for the first time. I was his age (around 5, 6 months old) when I came to this house for the first time. So, before I get all sentimental let me tell you what I am doing with him on an island (where you can barely find a person, let alone an OT or a sensory room) that is sensory friendly. You can do this at a lake, river or any other place with water suitable for dipping. I mostly use water as my medium and I try to reveal most of his skin so he gets a lot of the tactile input, too. He was a winter born baby so for the first four months he was in thick socks and three layers of clothing.

First I give V. an oil massage throughout his whole body rubbing his arms, legs, tummy and back. I use coconut oil as per Indian tradition (oh, look at that, another tradition I use), but olive oil, almond oil etc. will do. Then I dip him in the sea (gustative: salty water), or in a small pool (gustative: fresh water). His whole body feels the water (tactile), the water temperature and pressure when he is moving (proprioceptive). There are many visual stimuli such as water splashing, kids playing around, sun shining and reflecting against the water surface etc. There are auditive stimuli such as hearing the water splash, waves hit the beach, boat engines and kids’ screaming, people talking, etc. What is hard in this kind of situation is the ability to concentrate on pleasure the water gives us or on mommy being happy her big boy is swimming while your whole sensory body is super busy staying regulated and let’s face it, alive.


After a swim, there’s nothing better than a nice ice coffee. But how to go about it when your 5 month old does not want to stay peaceful in his stroller. Well, babies loooove proprioceptive games. What’s easier than a push/pull game? Leave the baby in his stroller or put him on the ground if socially acceptable and get a toy or something like a scarf, tissue… Let the baby hold it and while verbally motivating the child, try to pull it out of his hand. Do it in different rhythms.

Other proprioceptive games include you slightly bouncing the baby while holding them tightly, of course. Also, do it in different rhythms and give your baby a second to start anticipating. What can help is you saying:” I am going to bounce you now. Oneeee, twoooo, threeee. There we goooo!!!” Try doing it in an enticing voice.
While your baby’s regular play time (don’t forget the importance of tummy time!) you can include some different kinds of toys. I actually gave my son a toy for dogs. It’s a hedgehog. I love that it’s small enough to fit in his hand and spiky to give some tactile stimulation on his palms.


If you don’t have anything like that, it’s ok. Don’t rush to the store. You can take a walk with your baby and let them touch the branches or even daddy’s hair or beard.

20140708-202229.jpg 20140708-202112.jpg




My son is also teething terribly. His first tooth started coming out when he was barely two months old and now he is a 5 month old baby with 5 white poky dots in his mouth. Needless to say, he is cranky and loud! Keeping a stash of Gengigel and him occupied is a must, so having some good sensory activities in a place where there is really nothing around but nature is a life saver!

Let’s get dirty: Top 5 sensory summer activities

I love summer for its practicality when it comes to sensory activities and the creativity at this time of the year is endless. Here’s my top 5 sensory activities for the summer season:

1. Water

  • Sea: if you are planning a trip to the coast, this might be a great sensory experience for your child. Not only swimming, but walking through the shallow water, touching the sand or pebbles with bare feet or just splashing it around is good.
  • Bathing in the tub: You can prepare baths for your child in the yard or the balcony like I did with my son. My 4 month old loves to bathe and splash water everywhere. During the hot days I take his tub out in the balcony and give him a coconut oil massage first (as per Indian tradition) and afterwards we dip. If your child is a bit bigger, fill the tub with some plastic balls for the kid to play with while bathing.
  • Color: You can use some food coloring and color the water for your child to play with. Throw in some cups and toys, too. Tea party? Sounds great!


2. Sand

  • Dry sand: put a lot of sand in a box, hide some small toys that your child loves inside and have him or her search for the toys. Take a cup and slowly sip the sand through your child’s hands, arms, hair, legs and feet. See if they like it in one place more than the other. I worked with a few kids who didn’t like to touch sand or seeds but they loved when I sipped it through their hair.
  • Wet sand: you can of course take molds and make different shapes and build it up to a castle or a road for your child’s favorite car.
  • You can bury your child’s feet or hands in the sand so they feel its heaviness (proprioceptive stimulaiton) or tie up some sand in a bag and around your child’s feet, on top of his shoulders or even around his waist.

20140415-002444.jpg tia sand

3. Foam

  • if your child has a tendency to put their hands in mouth, perhaps you should use an edible version of a shaving foam such as whipped cream. Again, you can color it with food dye for more visual attraction, you can have your child put the foam all over the body, starting with foamy mustache or role play “how does mommy put her facial cream on her face?” or “how does daddy shave his beard?” and continue onto legs and arms. Add some natural scent (orange, lemon…) if you are using an edible version for the olfactory and gustative stimulation.
  • you can dip your plastic toys and give them a nice foamy bath and rinse them in water afterwards.
  • all of these can be done outdoors, while child sitting in a tub or on the pebbles.
  • if you don’t have pebbles around your house, consider using grass or other unstable surfaces such as a balance board.
Girl and a boy playing with shaving foam.  Permission acquired from their parents.
Girl and a boy playing with shaving foam. Permission acquired from their parents.

girl playing with water

4. Barefoot

  • summer is a great time to be barefoot. There is very less chance your child will get a cold due to walking barefoot in the summer season. Exactly the opposite, walking barefoot could do a lot of good to your child so use at least this season for that. If your home heating system is good enough, you can have your child barefoot even during the winter inside your home.
  • opportunities are endless: walking on the sand, pebbles, small stones and if you are brave enough, you can have the child walk on the pine tree needles (be careful, some insects like to hide in there!), shallow part of the sea or lake and through the grass!

t n t in grass

  • you can have your child be barefoot in a park too, if you find that socially acceptable.

tia barefoot in park


5. Indulge

  • Flavors: seasonal fruit, Popsicles
  • Smells: woods, fruits, flowers, Mediterranean herbs
  • Hot & Cold: You can give your child some ice (be careful!) to play with, see it melt or spread it on his body. You can also dye it with some food colors for more visual fun. To make it even better, use some fruits to color it and you ask the child to lick it as Popsicle. On the other extreme, no, I am not suggesting you should have your child play with fire, but let them feel the warmth by walking barefoot in the sun (don’t let them burn their feet though! Concrete floor and stone can get pretty hot so be careful. Try it yourself before letting your kids do it). Let them put some ice on a hot surface (again, be careful and always around your child for safety measures!) and see it melt. Let them see you cook and try putting their hand high above the cooking pot so they feel the vapor but can’t get hurt. Can’t emphasize the safety measures enough for these ideas!

Summer is great because even if your child spills something, it will get fried quickly. Oops! Lapsus calami. I meant, dried! This just tells you what temperatures we’re currently having in Croatia. Kids can spend most of their time outdoors and enjoy the natural sensory play. I’ll keep adding activities as I do them myself with my niece, nephew and son.

Until then… stay hydrated!

Ispeci pa reci!

Nikada neću zaboraviti što mi je jedna mama s posla ispričala. Njezin sin ima ozbiljne razvojne poteškoće: roditelji su mi rekli da je svoje prve četiri godine dijete skoro pa vegetiralo. Tamo gdje si ga stavio, tu si ga i našao, rekli su mi. Tek poslije kada su krenuli na senzornu integraciju i počeli raditi na komunikaciji, dječak se otvorio. Radila sam s njim preko godinu dana. Zbog njegovog stanja odnosno nemogućnosti komunikacije skoro ni na koji način, roditelji su često pričali o njemu pred njim. Do tog jednog dana! Njegova mama se potužila prijateljici i pričala joj kako se osjeća dok joj je sin bio u istoj sobi. Dječak je pogledao svoju mamu i briznuo u plač. Mama je bila shrvana. Bila je jako tužna što je na taj način povrijedila svoga sina. No, s druge strane bila je i sretna jer je imala dokaz da ju njezin sin ipak razumije, da razumije jezik i da osjeća iste emocije, tj. da voli svoju mamu. Od onda više nikada nije pričala negativno o svojemu sinu pred njim samim, nego su ga dapače roditelji još intezivnije počeli voditi na terapije.

Uvijek sam bila oprezna da ne kažem ništa negativno o djetetu pred njim samim, ali otkako sam čula ovu priču i osjetila tu majčinu bol koju je godinama nanosila djetetu, promijenila sam se i ja. Ako ja imam osjećaj da želim promijeniti cijeli svijet za tog dječaka, koji je inače, izrastao u zaista sretnog i nasmijanog dječaka, mogu onda samo misliti kako se njegova majka osjeća.

Nemojte riskirati govoreći negativno o svojoj djeci pred njima, bez obzira na stupanj djetetovog razvoja. Nije vrijedno toga. Možete li zamisliti kada bi znanost bila toliko uznapredovala da možemo pročitati misli i osjećaje naše djece da saznamo koliko su dobro ustvari razumjeli što govorimo i koliko su ih naše riječi povrijedile? Svi si moramo dati malo oduška. Dovoljno je teško kada roditelj sazna da mu dijete nije onog zdravlja kakvog si je želio i zamišljao za svoje dijete. Kada znaš da nećeš čuti “mama” ili “volim te”, ili da nećeš dobiti zagrljaj ili poljubac od svog djeteta jednostavno ti se slomi srce. Proces tugovanja i pričanja o tome je odličan i zdrav za roditelje, ali pronađite povoljno vrijeme, mjesto i osobu za to. Nikada ne znaš hoće li te i kada tvoje dijete početi razumijevati. A kada to shvatiš, može biti i prekasno.

Kako objasniti djetetove senzorne potrebe obitelji i prijateljima?

Nije jako teško objasniti senzorna odstupanja onima koji se nikada prije nisu upoznali s tim terminom. Ali svejedno, reakcije ljudi su vrlo zanimljive, pogotovo onih malo starijih. U rasponu su od “Ma, gle ti te obraščiće, on izgleda tako zdrav!” do “U moje doba se nisi mogao tako ponašati!” Jeste li i vi dobivali takve komentare? Dakle, što učiniti, kako objasniti da ako se dijete baca po podu zbog soka od narače ipak ne zaslužuje otići u kaznu?

Da bismo odgovorili na to pitanje moramo uzeti u obzir da većina nas ima nekakav senzorni deficit te da uglavnom niti ne shvaćamo da su neke naše svakodnevne reakcije ustvari senzorne reakcije na vanjske podražaje.

  • kada sjedimo na stolcu prekriženih nogu, neki ljudi počnu cupkati gornjom nogom. Mozak ne dobiva dovoljno informacija o položaju gornje noge i mora ju pomicati (ili ako imaju nekakvu široku cipelu ili sandalu, neki ljudi se počnu igrati s njom). Na ovaj način cupkanje noge daje proprioceptivni podražaj iz zgloba u mozak o nozi i njenoj poziciji.
  • Onima kojima je jako bolno hodanje po kamenčićima ili šljunku su možda taktilno preosjetljivi u području stopala.
  • Neki ne vole dirati mokre spužvice ili mokru kosu.
  • Neke ljude možeš izbaciti iz ravnoteže vrlo lako.
  • Neki ljudi će tek rijetko pogoditi pernatu lopticu za badminton jer imaju slabiju kontrolu oko-ruka.
  • Kada su umorni, neki ljudi postanu preosjetljivi na zvuk i svjetlo (ja!)

No, neka djeca i većina zdravih odraslih ljudi može kognitivno kompenzirati ta senzorna odstupanja. Znamo da se suđe mora oprati i na dosadnom predavanju se mora dugo sjediti. To nam neće biti najugodnija aktivnost, ali ćemo to napraviti. Djeca sa značajnijim senzornim odstupanjem neće moći reagirati na taj način. Oni će i dalje tražiti senzorne podražaje koje trebaju ili će se pokušati maknuti od onih na koje su preosjetljivi. Što činite kada izađete iz kuće tokom ljeta – zaštitite svoje oči ili zaškiljite dok se ne prilagodite. Stoga, kada vidite da se dijete baca po podu zbog soka od naranče, provjerite što je uzrokovalo to ponašanje (trag; ima li komadića naranče u soku / je li sok prehladan / je li prekiseo)

Kada vidite da netko ne razumije senzorne potrebe i ponašanje Vašeg djeteta, probajte ih pitati neka od ovih pitanja; cupkaju li nogom dok sjede prekriženih nogu na stolcu; smetaju li im glasni zvukovi navečer; smetaju li im pomiješani mirisi u trgovačkim centrima; bliješti li im sunce kada izađu van nakon boravka u zamračenoj prostoriji… Na taj način ćete im približiti ovu problematiku jer će primijetiti da je senozrna integracija i u njima samima samo prije nikad nisu bili svjesni toga. Bolje će razumijeti i njenu ozbiljnost i intezitet.

Javite mi je li Vam ovo pomoglo!