• Hannah OT

#Sensory Circuits

A sensory circuit is a short sequence of activities that aims to fine tune the brain to prepare for the day or task ahead.

Participation in a short sensory motor circuit is a great way both to energise and settle a child - in equal measures! I know it may sound counter-intuitive to ask a child who is already climbing the walls to participate in more movement, but honestly it works! Our mistake as adults is often to assume that calming activity involves sitting still, when in fact for many children movement is the key! I'll talk a little more abut this next week when I give some more ideas for activities, but just to give an example: my lovely 6 year old who you will see demonstrating this week's sensory circuit in the below video, has a tendency to become very dysregulated - her speaking speed increases, her volume increases and she can almost be seen to be bouncing in front of me like a cross between having to tune in to a ping-pong-ball game played whilst the players are attached to a bungee cord and a Tasmanian Devil in a trampoline park (If you have one at home you will hopefully understand the description!). I used to tell her to sit down and chill, but now I ask her to go up to her room and crawl over her Swiss Ball 20 x across her room, and not surprisingly the request to engage in organised movement calms her considerably more than sitting quietly ever could!

Sensory circuits can be done at any time during the day, but are most effective first thing in the morning or prior to a difficult task or period in the day.

Sensory circuits should be no longer than 5 minutes and should consist of an alerting, organising and calming activity - NO equipment is needed, but it is essential that all stages are completed! Many schools run sensory circuits using lots of equipment in the hall, this is fine and a great way to start the day, but an equipment free circuit is just as useful and can be done in smaller spaces and requires less set-up.

Aspects of a sensory circuit can be done at any point in the day, and timings for individual activities can be lengthened when not being completed as part of a sensory circuit e.g. if a child is showing signs of being under-aroused then some alerting activity is a great way to get that internal engine revving again, or indeed if a child is bouncing around the room and is too over-aroused then an additional dose of calming activity could be very helpful for all:-)

What happens in the brain during a sensory circuit?

Alerting (The brain's warm-up) - Alerts the brain: provides stimulation to allow the child to reach an appropriate level of arousal.

Organising (The brain's work-out) - Organises the brain: stimulates both sides of the brain and fine tunes all areas of the brain ready for action.

Calming (The brain's cool-down) - Calms the brain: After a shake up and a fine tune, the brain can rest and prepare for the day.

Please watch the following video for an example of how quick and easy a sensory circuit can be! See if you can spot the alerting, organising and calming activities and tune in tomorrow to see if you were right!

Happy day 2!

Hannah OT:-)

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