I work in special needs education and sensory diets are a vital part of our work. Our OT assesses every student and then in class, we complete a sensory programme to help our students self regulate and be ready to learn. Some diets are done once a day, some have elements we do throughout the day and then there are those students who have sensory integration as a part of every activity. Gross motor skills are a significant ingredient of our diets, we encourage walking, running, swings are great for self regulation as are climbing, jumping and balance. We have lots of trampolines and swings situated around our site and an indoor therapy suite with a variety of swings, squeeze machines, gym balls etc.. In addition, we do morning wake and shake sessions and our students have a gym to develop gross motor skills in a more adult environment, a skill we hope they will transfer to their adult life.
Over the years I have seen the benefit of these diets and believe in the importance of them in helping our students to learn. I would like to see such sensory work replicated in mainstream schools. Last year, Little Miss was desperate to have my Fitbit at school and to see how many steps she did on an average day. The results were surprising, so much of her school day was sat down at a desk, with peaks for the walk to and from school and running around at break and lunch, I’m sure even a five minute sensory spot would help pupils prepare for the next session. I know during the holidays and weekends we always have a daily gross motor skills activity, scooters, swimming, play park, walks etc.. to help the children’s regulation, mood and energy. Gross motor skills are an essential part of our development and should be encouraged practised daily by us all.