Top Tips for Supporting Sensory Seekers
When you hear the term sensory seeker, I bet someone comes to mind.
Maybe it’s your child. Or a student in your class. Or even your partner. (*cough cough) ;)
This term is becoming more widely known (yay!) but it’s important to make sure we are all on the same page when we are talking about sensory seekers.
The term sensor seeker comes from Dr. Winnie Dunn’s Sensory Processing Framework.
A sensory seeker has two distinct components: a high threshold and active self regulation.
A high threshold means that it takes a lot of stimulation for their nervous system to register it. They often need a lot of input throughout the day.
Active self-regulation means that when they need sensory input or when they want to avoid input, they will do so immediately. When they feel like they need to move, they’ll get up and move right then.
A high threshold + active self-regulation = a sensory seeker
Seekers look like kids who are always on the go - like they can never get enough input.
According to Dr. Winnie Dunn, a seeker’s brain is geared to detect novelty.
That is why when we try to set routines for them at home, in the classroom, or in therapy that it never seems like enough for them. They crave new experiences.
So with a seeker kid you want to give them different experiences throughout the day. And this can look like playing new games or playing old games in a new way.
You want your sensory seeker to have lots of intense, sensory input throughout the day.
Instead of keeping your routines the same each day, try and add new sensory experiences or provide lots of movement opportunities all day long.
We can do this in therapy and the classroom too. If there is a routine that has to be followed every day, try and make each experience novel or different.
If you sing a hello song, sing it differently each time. Maybe sometimes you sing while on the swing or using big body movements. Find creative ways to provide the novelty they crave.
Sensory seekers have a big cup that needs to be filled. And providing new, intense sensory experiences is what is going to fill their cup so they can be regulated, engaged, and learning.
Check out this week’s episode of Making the Shift for more ideas and tips for supporting sensory seekers: Making the Shift Episode 46
If you are an SLP wanting to learn how you can better support sensory in your sessions, check out my Sensory Certificate Course for SLPs