How to Work with a Sensory-Seeking Kiddo Who Can’t Focus

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He is 5.6 yrs old in kindergarten. He has severe sensory integration problems mostly tactile. He seeks touch, Claps his hands, looks for different Textures, jumps around etc. He has a very hard time focusing on a structured/unstructured tasks for more than 10 mins. He starts to scream, laugh, clap, move his head and then session is over. I tried applying pressure, breaks of Movement, behavior charts and nothing seems to work. His goals are to use pronouns in sentences, possessives, use specific vocabulary instead of that thing and retell about the past. In a structured activity he can stay on task and produce pronouns/possessives with max cues. Getting him to retell is very challenging. I tried sequencing cards, playing with play school toys and he engages for a few minutes and then I loose him. He has not progressed much in his goals. In the classroom he doesn’t stay on tasks. ID’s letters but has no sounds. Can’t write or trace, can’t answer questions and count. He is in OT but she decided not to use a weighted vest and she focus on his writing only.

My Thoughts:

  • Obvious sensory-seeking behaviors that need to be addressed, but should be addressed by OT
    • Sensory diet throughout his day to get those needs met
    • Specific sensory strategies before and during sessions to help him focus (weighted blanket/vest, wiggle seat cushion, hand fidgets, heavy work, etc.)
    • Give him choices of activities to do before working and every 5 minutes or so to allow him to pick the kind of sensory input that he is most seeking
  • Try working on things during sensory activities or heavy-work type movement activities (
    • Take the wheels off a toy shopping cart and glue a piece of carpet to the bottom (or use a solid wooden or cardboard box).  Load it up with something very heavy and then put the child’s flashcard (or whatever work you’re doing) on top.  Tell him he has to push it all the way across the room and then put it somewhere (on a board, in a box, etc.) and make him practice the word or skill when he gets to the other side.  Then, make him push the cart back to get another card to do
    • Teach him how to crab walk and tape a flash card of an object to his shirt.  Have him crab walk it across the room and then take it off his shirt and lay it next to one of a few dolls that are out.  Make him say a sentence using a possessive about whose object it is.
    • Get some yoga cards (like Yoga Pretzels) and have him draw a card and then do that pose.  Then, have him immediately recall what he did
    • Put a flashcard of a vocab word under a pile of heavy blocks.  Make him move and restack all the blocks to find the word and then tell you what it is called
    • Do speech therapy on the swing set and have him describe pictures while swinging or in between swinging sessions
    • Put him in an office chair and spin him 5 times in each direction, then have him do 2 minutes of work before getting to spin again
  • Try more frequent, shorter sessions
  • Ask parents what helps him settle or calm at home