QUESTION:

I attended your very helpful seminar last Thursday in Culver City and had a question about children that are sensory cravers. I am a relatively new OT and just wanted to make sure that I am offering the best-informed treatment that I can when providing therapy to my kids so I appreciate any help whatsoever.

I currently have two children under 3 years old that parents have identified as proprioceptive and vestibular cravers in the home settings via sensory checklists and parent interviews. I typically see them in the morning and often do not see either of these craving behaviors during the entire session. One of them even appears to be a low arousal child when I see her.

Here’s my question: I know it’s important to help these sensory cravers reach their threshold in therapy when possible, but if they typically do not present as sensory cravers when I see them (but do so at home possibly during later hours), should I still treat them as sensory cravers when I see them by providing calming input or do I provide the appropriate sensory input on the basis of how they present themselves during therapy? Thank you for your help, Gwen.

GWEN’S ANSWER:

Thank you for attending my course! I’m glad you found it to be helpful.

It is common for cravers to appear as passive under-responders in the mornings. In fact, most sensory cravers are NOT morning people. So, it could be that since you are seeing them in the morning, they appear as passive under-responders but by afternoon, they appear as sensory cravers. Either way though, under-responsiveness is the commonality and both types of under-responders really need alerting input to help them reach their high thresholds. The primary difference is that you will probably find it easier to reach their threshold in the morning and more difficult in the afternoon. Remember the guidelines from Lucy Jane Miller that need to be in place with sensory activities for sensory cravers:

  1. Make sure the input is mostly proprioceptive in nature.
  2. Incorporate frequent stops and starts into the activity (maybe by setting up a circuit or obstacle course).
  3. Incorporate frequent head position changes (can also be accomplished by a circuit or obstacle course).
  4. Make the activity goal directed (counting to 100 by 10s or staying with an activity while singing a short song, etc.).
  5. Contain them in small spaces when possible.

I hope that helps! Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Best Wishes,

Gwen