Autism Support in Fayetteville | ShineLight Services

The Role of the Sensory Diet in Autism

While the term sensory diet may evoke images of fruits and vegetables, a sensory diet is actually a comprehensive plan of physical activities that are used to help meet the sensory needs of an individual with autism. Just as an ordinary diet is something that many people may use to keep themselves from eating too much unhealthy food, a sensory diet is something that many people with autism use to keep themselves from receiving too much of the wrong kind of sensory stimulation. To learn more about using a sensory diet in conjunction with autism support in Fayetteville, read on.

What Is a Sensory Diet?

Activities in the sensory diet address the various sensory needs of a person with autism.

Proprioception activities involve any activity where a person may lift, pull, or push an object. Examples of proprioception include pushing a stroller, swimming, and vacuuming.

Vestibular activities involve any type of movement that is centered around swinging or spinning. Examples of vestibular activities include swinging on a swing, jumping jacks, and dancing.

Tactile experiences center around the physical sensation of touch, pressure, texture, and vibration. Examples of tactile activities include playing with putty, drawing in the sand, or playing hand games.

Auditory experiences are centered around listening activities. Examples of auditory activities include listening to music, listening to sounds in nature, and playing a musical instrument.

Visual experiences can be very over-stimulating for individuals with autism. In order to reduce visual stimulation, a sensory diet may recommend avoiding fluorescent lights and keeping areas organized and clutter-free.

Smell is a very personal experience and can vary from person to person. It is important to consider whether someone likes or dislikes certain scents. For individuals with autism that like scents, introducing calming scents such as lavender and vanilla can help with sensory overload. For people that do not like scents, be sure to purchase products that are scent-free.

Taste is the final component of a sensory diet. For people with autism who may be unresponsive or lethargic, strong tastes such as peppermint can help to positively stimulate the person. For over-stimulated individuals, strong tastes such as spicy food should be avoided.

What is the Purpose of a Sensory Diet?

The main purpose of a sensory diet is to help people with autism stay focused and organized by avoiding sensory overload. Sensory diets are also intended to help them recover from overloads once they have happened. Over time, the sensory diet can help autistic people reduce obsessive seeking and avoidance of certain sensory stimuli, increase their attention span, give them a sense of control, and help them handle more challenging sensory stimuli in the future.

Who Creates a Sensory Diet?

Because every person with autism has a unique combination of sensory issues and sensory needs, every sensory diet needs to be crafted for the individual. This is most often done by an occupational therapist. Once the diet is created, people with autism and their caregivers, parents, or teachers can use it to create structured activities for different situations that can be used to improve day to day functionality.

Autism Support in Fayetteville

To consult with trained professionals about the sensory diet or learn about other kinds of autism support in Fayetteville, contact ShineLight.

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ShineLight Provides Autism Support in Fayetteville and Beyond

ShineLight was created with the distinct purpose of providing a brighter life and future for individuals with autism. ShineLight serves as a guiding light for individuals and their families by leading the way in support services and community advocacy. Their service areas include: Fayetteville, Wake, Sampson, Scotland, Duplin, Wayne, Lenoir, Greene, Wilson, Edgecombe, Durham, Johnston, Cumberland, Hoke, Robeson, and Bladen Counties. Contact us today.

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