What is Sensory Seeking?

Sensory seeking is a behavior often observed in children who are under-sensitive to sensory inputs. They actively seek out sensory experiences involving sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. This behavior is often due to a high neurological threshold or under-responsiveness, leading them to crave more sensory stimulation.

What is Sensory Seeking?

Sensory seeking is a behavior where a person, often a child, is under-sensitive to sensory input and actively seeks out sensory experiences. This can involve any of the five senses: sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. Sensory seekers may have a high neurological threshold or be under-responsive, leading them to crave more sensory stimulation.

  • Watching others move: This could be a sign that the child is seeking visual stimulation.
  • Constantly touching people or objects: This indicates a need for tactile stimulation.
  • Being unable to sit still: This could be a sign of seeking proprioceptive or vestibular stimulation.
  • Poor balance and coordination: This could indicate a need for more vestibular or proprioceptive input.

What are the Common Symptoms of Sensory Seeking?

Children who are sensory seekers exhibit certain behaviors that indicate their need for more sensory input. These behaviors can vary widely depending on which senses the child is seeking to stimulate.

  • Clapping hands and stamping feet: This can be a sign of seeking auditory or proprioceptive stimulation.
  • Throwing themselves onto the ground: This could indicate a need for proprioceptive input.
  • Standing very close to other people: This could be a sign of seeking tactile or social interaction.
  • Chewing on non-edible items: This indicates a need for oral sensory stimulation.
  • Spinning, jumping, or crawling: These actions can indicate a need for vestibular stimulation.

How Can Sensory Seeking Behavior be Managed?

Managing sensory seeking behavior involves providing the child with appropriate and safe outlets for their sensory needs. Instead of punishing the child for their behavior, it's more effective to redirect them to activities that satisfy their sensory cravings in a safe and constructive way.

  • Action room: A dedicated space where the child can freely move and explore can help satisfy their sensory needs.
  • Obstacle course: This can provide a variety of sensory inputs in a fun and engaging way.
  • Play catch: This activity can help with coordination and provide proprioceptive input.
  • Break box: A box filled with sensory toys can provide a safe outlet for sensory seeking behaviors.

What are Some Strategies to Calm a Sensory Seeking Child?

There are several strategies that can help calm a sensory seeking child. These strategies involve providing the child with sensory input in a controlled and safe manner.

  • Chill spa: A calm and quiet space with soothing sensory inputs can help the child relax.
  • Entertain the mouth: Providing safe items to chew can satisfy oral sensory needs.
  • Short breaks: Allowing the child to take short breaks can help them regulate their sensory needs.
  • Deep pressure exercises: These can provide proprioceptive input and help calm the child.

Can Sensory Seeking Behavior Resolve Over Time?

Sensory seeking behavior may resolve on its own as the child grows and their sensory system matures. However, in some cases, the behavior may persist and require intervention from a professional, such as an occupational therapist.

How Can HYM Help with Sensory Seeking Behavior?

Healthy Young Minds (HYM) provides mental and behavioral teletherapy services, which can be beneficial for children with sensory seeking behavior. HYM's therapists work with parents and children to develop a comprehensive care plan that includes strategies for managing sensory seeking behavior.

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