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Sensory Play at Home

An occupation is defined as the activities or tasks that make up our lives; eating, sleeping, working, playing, reading, anything you love to do is an occupation that provides your life with meaning and makes you who you are. Play is one of the most important occupations for a child as it is one that takes place within their daily lives and which is influenced by internal and external factors from a child's environment. Play are those activities that provide internal motivation, provide children with freedom from external rules, transcend reality and allow children to reflect on reality, allows them to focus on the means and not the end, as well as provides an opportunity for spontaneous and safe participation. Factors that can influence play, whether they are internal or external, can also involve a child's sensory processing system. The term sensory processing refers to the process and organization of sensations that we use and possess throughout our daily occupations. How can play and a child's sensory processing needs be combined into a similar category? The answer is sensory play. Sensory play can be any activity that stimulates a child's sense of touch, smell, tase, sight, and hearing as well as their sense of movement and balance! Sensory play is limited only by a child's imagination and it can provide many benefits. Sensory play is not only engaging and interesting to children, but it can also prompt their desire to explore and investigate their surroundings! Sensory play supports a child's use of the scientific method (such as their observation, use of hypothesis, and experiential skills) as well as their threshold for various sensory information. Increasing a child's threshold for sensory information can help their brains create stronger connections with sensory information. It can also help them develop the skills needed to sort through useful and not useful sensory information! Ask your therapist how you can incorporate sensory play into your child's play routine and find additional resources below!


1. Tara Watts, Karen Stagnitti, Ted Brown; Relationship Between Play and Sensory Processing: A Systematic Review. Am J Occup Ther 2014;68(2):e37–e46.

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