‘Cause everyone likes to swing

Earlier this morning, my friend texted me this picture with the caption “cause everyone needs to swing”.    She knew I’d appreciate it, as she has listened to me talk sensory many times! 

Sensory diets and overall awareness of sensory integration isn’t only important for children or individuals with a sensory processing disorder. We all have sensory needs and preferences, and many of us are driven to meet those needs on a daily basis. Every human has a central nervous system and 8 sensory systems. We each have individual sensory needs and preferences and are driven to meet those needs in our daily life. 

With so many of us working from home more often, especially during the pandemic,  I thought it might be time to explore the ways we meet our own sensory needs as adults and share with you.  For my friend, working from a hammock may have just seemed like a comfy spot. Yet I see proprioception from the “hug” of the hammock against her body, gentle linear vestibular input from the movement of the hammock and a small space, we often may call “womb space”.  In addition, she was listening to spotify for auditory input.  

When I am sedentary and doing paperwork I prefer a rolling chair over a stationary chair and often find myself fidgeting with a pencil or other object on my desk. I love to listen to music, but sometimes, depending on my threshold for the day  it may be too much and I work better in a quiet space (although that is easier said than done with two toddlers in my home). 

Think about when you may reach for a snack: is it when you are tired or trying to focus? Is your choice snack- crunchy, cold, sweet, sour etc or a beverage – water bottle, coffee, tea, is it hot or cold, carbonated or flat? 

Do you hand deliver something to a co-worker just to step away from your computer? Maybe you have an essential oil diffuser in your office. Or maybe you have caught yourself browsing or even purchasing a ball chair, standing desk, moving footrest, or one of the many products on the market designed to give us the movement we need. Are you someone that needs to get in your exercise routine before you begin your day or do you avoid too much stimulation and are happier in quiet environments? 

There are so many simple ways we naturally provide ourselves with sensory input and self regulation strategies throughout the day. Everyone’s sensory preferences are unique and different, but our innate systems drive what our body is craving in that moment.

If you’ve found your way here, you may have difficulty with sensory integration or you know or love someone with a sensory processing disorder. Keeping your own sensory preferences in mind may be helpful in understanding others and how our central nervous systems drive our behavior and shape our personalities. It also is helpful when evaluating our expectations for children. They are wired to move their bodies. They are driven to seek input and that is OK!  I can wiggle in my chair, fidget with a paperclip and sip my coffee all while engaging in a conversation or meeting. Actually, those things are what keep me engaged. Children too are driven to self regulate. Of course, many children we see either seek or avoid input to a point it interferes with their day to day life. They haven’t quite figured out how to self-regulate and meet their needs safely and within the context of their environment – and that is where we come in. Our goal is to holistically work with children and their families (we can treat adults too) to find ways to  achieve that “just right” state  so they can fully and meaningfully engage in their daily life.