By: Laura Petix, MS OTR/L

Ever wish you could rewind and inject some wisdom into your old self, courtesy of a more wise, experienced, new self?

As a baby OT, fresh out of grad school and overly excited to write her first sensory diet plans, I remember creating a VERY exhaustive list compiled with elaborate, albeit sensory rich, activities. I may have gotten a few of them from Pinterest. 

It wasn’t until about 1 year in when I realized that the parents I worked with were having a hard time being consistent with the sensory diets. I often wondered, “Didn’t they get my 4 page long sensory diet program with over 100 activities for little Johnny?”

I had that “aha” moment when I joined the “exhausted parents club”. You know that club where you can barely get through the monotonous, robotic AM routines, let alone- implement an entire sensory diet before trying to rush out the door to get to school? 

That’s when I decided to re-vamp how I talk about sensory diets with parents.

Step 1: Pre- sensory diet considerations

The first things I needed to find out and consider before creating a sensory diet for my clients was:

  1. Find out what their weekday morning, after school and before bedtime routines looked like
  2. Find out what their weekend “routines” looked like
  3. Find out what kinds of resources/space they have available

Step 2: Identify sensory profile

Next, I went through evaluation intake papers and other information related to their sensory processing. At our clinic, we use the Sensory Processing Measure and the Sensory Profile.

I combine this information with observations I’ve made of the child in the clinic myself.

Note: I typically don’t give parents “official” sensory diets until I have observed/worked with the clients at least 2-3 times to be able to make sure I know what the client responds to best.

Step 3: Curate list of sensory diet activities

Combining information from step 1 and step 2, I now carefully “curate” my list of appropriate sensory diet activities that would suit the child in this home environment.

 I’m usually working off of this sensory strategies guidebook that I just edit accordingly in powerpoint. 

I like to keep most, if not all of my sensory diet activities fairly no/low prep to ensure parents have a more successful follow through. 

Then, I usually write down the activities in a daily planner like this simple, no prep printable. 

Step 4: Parent education(Don’t skip this!)

If you haven’t already, spend time discussing the sensory profile of your client with his/her parents and make sure they understand

If you’re an OT looking for a way to save time while still creating tailored sensory programs for your clients at home, check out this Home Sensory Strategies Guidebook for Parents. 


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Laura Petix, MS OTR/L

I’m an enneagram 6, so my brain is constantly moving. My OT lenses never turn off and I can’t “un-see” the sensory and other developmental skills that go in to literally every activity. I love taking what I see and breaking it down into simple terms so parents can understand what goes into their child’s behavior and skills.

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