Thursday, 8 October 2015

Phoenix and sensory needs

If you've followed us for a while, you may have noticed that Phoenix is often photographed with blocks in her hands or by her mouth. That's because Phoenix has a variety of sensory needs which we try to help her meet. One of the needs that she has shown us is texture seeking with her tongue. 

As a small child she used to lick her board books to meet that need - however it destroyed a large number of the books, so I tried other items for her to lick that would meet this need without being destructive. I tried a variety of chewy necklaces and even some formal chewlery, but nothing that would hold her attention for long. 

One day I looked at the wooden blocks we had and noticed that there was a wide variety of etching and prints on the sides. I handed that to her instead and she liked it. She clearly finds it very relaxing to do and she often pairs the use of her block with watching videos on her iPad. In fact, "iPad/block" is a single phrase for her and she knows to go find one when she wants that kind of sensory feedback. 

And, the books are no longer destroyed by Phoenix: they are destroyed by her little sisters ripping pages off  <sigh>.

Another sensory need we have found is deep pressure on her arms, legs or trunk. Phoenix likes to sit behind me or beside me on the couch and push her legs into me, producing deep pressure. She also really likes deep pressure squeezing on her torso in the form us very tight hugs. When I do this she laughs, smiles and tells me it's amazing, so I know I am doing it right.

Jen recently found a theraband on a swap and buy group for $5 and we've introduced it to Phoenix. We wrap it tightly around her torso and tie it off in a knot. Phoenix will happily wear it for hours.

What I like about the time we are living in is the growing awareness of how sensory integration affects us all. I can try these activities and therapies with Phoenix and no one thinks that it is odd or out of the ordinary. Kids can wear their chewlery to school and are not considered weird.

Many people have sensory needs, even people who are so called "typical". The more we meet our sensory needs, the better we are able to function and to put our bodies into homeostasis. That's one of the reasons I work with Phoenix to meet her sensory needs. I want her to understand how her body is "supposed" to feel, and to find ways which work for her, and for us, to be able to moderate her own body independently. 


  1. Soooooo good. So incredibly good. In my experience, sensory issues are tough for so many people to understand/accept. The fact that you're so in tune with the girls, what they need and how to provide it is awesome. Good work momma!!!