7 Types of Sensory Needs & Creative Solutions

Katie Mitchell
Katie Mitchell
May 11, 2021 3 min read

There are many different sensory types and as many types of sensory needs! What's a grown-up to do? If you're overwhelmed by all the information out there about sensory processing, we can help you narrow down all this information a bit.

As a parent to a sensory kid, I've had the good fortune to learn a lot about the different sensory types from an occupational therapist and a pediatrician, as well as my child's learning plan team at school. With this knowledge, I love helping kids and parents find great toys for their needs because when these needs are met, children are more successful.

Meeting these needs also helps the grown-ups in your sensory kiddo's life. When needs are addressed and met in the classroom or at home, then your child can focus, better absorb information at a faster speed, and is more likely to remember to use any coping strategies they have learned.

Here are 7 different types of sensory needs, and some solutions and tools that can be used at home, as well as found here at Beyond the Blackboard.

A Child With Oral Needs May

  • Not like brushing their teeth or having their teeth professionally cleaned (this dislike goes beyond general discomfort - for example, they may require interventions for a regular visit to the dentist)
  • Bite frequently
  • Not like foods with certain textures
  • Often chew on their sleeve, pencils, fingernails, etc.
  • Be a very picky eater
  • Consistently crave salty, spicy, or sour flavors

Solutions for Oral Needs

  • Use a vibrating toothbrush
  • Provide crunchy snacks like apples, baby carrots, or seaweed snacks
  • Have a chewy on-hand
  • Provide chewing gum (if age appropriate)

A Child With Self-Movement Needs May

  • Love tight hugs or being "squished"
  • Jump or skip everywhere (instead of walking)
  • Hold objects too tightly
  • Be afraid of stairs or escalators
  • Be called "clumsy"
  • Seek pressure

Solutions for Self-Movement Needs

A Child With Auditory Needs May

  • Be extremely afraid of fireworks, or be startled and overwhelmed by crashing noises or loud sounds (for example, a fire alarm may cause an older child to "shut down" or become very upset)
  • Always be tapping their feet or their hands ("drumming")
  • Always turn up the volume on their device or when listening to music

Solutions for Auditory Needs

  • Encourage percussion lessons or provide instruments!
  • Make sure noise-cancelling headphones are always available for your child

A Child With Balance Needs May

  • Always be in motion
  • Love to be upside down
  • Love to spin
  • Crave intense or fast movement (roller coasters!)

Solutions for Balance Needs

A Child With Tactile Needs May

  • Avoid certain materials
  • Dislike clothing in general
  • Not like being touched
  • Love touching things that are smooth or have a soothing quality
  • Not like showers or getting wet
  • Not like being barefoot or walking on grass or sand
  • Wash their hands a lot
  • Dislike seams and tags in clothing

Solutions for Tactile Needs

A Child With Visual Needs May

  • Avoid eye contact
  • Avoid bright lights

Solutions for Visual Needs

  • Sunglasses!
  • There shouldn't be too many wall decorations in their spaces, and decorations should be calming
  • Use a weighted plush friend to practice making eye contact

 A Child With Olfactory Needs May

  • Be extremely sensitive to scents (perfume, coffee, laundry detergent, etc.)

Solutions for Olfactory Needs

It's important to note that most "sensory kids" experience a combination of these types of needs! If you have questions about sensory needs and preferences in your child, reach out to your pediatrician, who can refer you to a local occupational therapist.

Shop our Sensory Toys collection, here!

Beyond the Blackboard; 7 Types of Sensory Needs & Creative Solutions; www.beyondtheblackboard.com


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