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sensory strategies for swimming

Sensory Strategies for Swimmers

The water is cold! My swimsuit is too tight! It is too loud! The water hurts!

For many adults, summers spent lounging by the pool are some of the fondest memories. Swimming,sensory strategies for swimming whether it be at a pool, lake or ocean, and learning to swim, is considered a right of passage. The activity provides an array of learning experiences, including gross motor skills, balance, core strength, endurance, sensory processing opportunities and social interactions. However, with the many sensory demands that are involved in swimming, the task can become overwhelming for some children. Below is information regarding the many sensory systems that require integration within the brain while participating in a swim lesson.

Sensory Systems and Strategies for Swimming:

Sensory System How the Sensory System is Affected by Swimming Suggestions to Promote Processing of this Sensation
Motor Planning Motor planning is the groundwork for sensory integration. Swimming is an opportunity for your child to learn motor planning for symmetrical and asymmetrical movements, bilateral movements, crossing midline, learning to invert the head, and separation of upper body and lower body movements. ·         Practice riding a bicycle·         Practice reciprocal arm movements while lying prone on a scooter board.·         Jumping Jacks

·         Somersaults

 

Proprioception The ability to sense your body in space and movement of the body and its parts. Proprioceptive difficulty for swimming can present with little motor control, difficulty in motor planning, difficulty in modulating the sense of pressure and postural instability. ·         Water play in the bathtub.·         Heavy work and deep pressure input to the legs, arms and torso: log rolls, burrito rolls, nig bear hugs
Vestibular The vestibular system is controlled by the inner ear, mainly the movement of fluid within the three ear canals, and is the information gathering and feedback source for movements. All other sensations are processed in relationship to basic vestibular information. Swimming can be difficult in terms of vestibular processing due to head inversion, head turning and buoyancy. ·         Somersaults·         Swinging·         Jumping

·         Scooter board activities in different planes of movements: prone, supine, kneeling, criss-cross apple sauce,

·         Spinning

·         Log rolls

 

Tactile Water provides 600-700 times more resistance to the body than air. Movement through the water is a full body experience, thus providing tactile stimulation to every inch of the body. Water can also provide information regarding temperature. In addition, the act of swimming provides tactile input through the wearing of swimsuits, which can feel tight and restrictive in some cases. ·         Water play with warm water and with cold water·         Wearing tight clothing, similar to spandex or Under Armour·         Wearing swim suits and swim trunks as play clothing to get accustomed to the fabric; wear during dry and wet activities

·         Slip and slide activity

·

Auditory The amplitude of sounds underwater are affected by the pressure, which can cause a higher sensitivity to these amplitudes. This means, as sounds across air can be managed and integrated into your sensory system, the same sound under water can feel louder, causing discomfort in the ear drum. ·         Try wearing ear plugs while under water·         Play a sound game prior to swimming; place one ear in a small bucket of water and have one ear exposed to the air, listen to the same sound both above and below the water

Swimming can be both challenging and fun, but know your child’s limits as well. Continued exposure in a controlled and safe environment can help to establish safe and error-free learning along with confidence!


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NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

sensory activities for home

Sensory Activities in the Home

See, smell, touch, hear, taste and move. 80% of your brain is used in the processing, translation and use of sensorysensory activities for home information while your entire childhood is a process of learning, development and play! From early ages we learn what we should touch and what would burn us; we learn what sounds make us fall asleep and what sounds make us cry; we
also learn what foods we crave and which ones we say “yuck!” toward. All these sensational experiences help to shape our brains and help us engage in everyday activities, including play!

Without realizing it, the play scenarios you create with your child provide learning opportunities through every sensation. Though it may look like a child at play is only playing, he is in fact learning HOW to learn by engaging his sensory receptors to provide his body feedback. Of course, sensory play and sensory learning can be incorporated into your every day.

Here are sensory play activities you can engage in with the materials you have at home:

 

SENSATION INPUT TO YOUR BODY ACTIVITIES TO TRY AT HOME
Vestibular (movement balance) The three-dimensional sensation that places your body “here”, allowing you to understand where your body is in relation to the ground Crab walks

  • Somersault tumbles
  • Inversion yoga poses (downward dog, headstands, handstands)
  • Cartwheels
  • Spinning in circles (either assisted or independently)
  • Playground swings
  • Going down slides in different positions (on butt, on stomach feet first, on stomach head first, on back)
Proprioceptive (body position) This is your body awareness system, knowing where your body parts are in relation to one another.
  • Simon says for body movement
  • Animal walks (crab walk, bear walk, penguin walk)
  • Burrito rolls inside a blanket
  • Riding a bike
  • Dancing free style or the hokey-pokey
  • Bunny jumping

 

Tactile (touch) Through touch you get sensations about pain, temperature, texture, size, pressure and shape.
  • Play-doh
  • Shaving cream play
  • Sand boxes
  • Finding toys in rice or dry beans
  • Slime
  • Finger paint
  • Balloon volleyball
  • Secret message back writing
Visual (seeing) Your sight provides you with information about color, size, shape, movement and distance.
  • Bubbles
  • Eye-spy
  • Floating balloon
  • Mazes
  • Interactive iPad games (I love fireworks, pocket pond, glow free)
  • Play a game of “how far is that” (will need a measuring tape to confirm)
Gustatory (taste) A “chemical” sense that gives you information about the objects (edible or not) that you place into your mouth.
  • Guess that taste!
  • Play restaurant
  • Explore different tastes: sour, sweet, bitter,
  • Allow oral motor exploration during tummy time
  • Explore different textures: crunchy, smooth like yogurt, thick liquids like apple sauce, thick solid food like meat
Olfactory (smell) Another “chemical” sense that registers and categorizes smells in the environment.
  • Smell candles
  • Guess that food!
  • Scented markers
  • Make cookies
  • Label different fruits by smell
Auditory (hearing) Allows you to locate, capture and discriminate sounds in your environment.
  • Sing and dance
  • Guess that sound!
  • Directions based games (Simon says, Hokey Pokey, Bop-it, Hullaballoo)
  • Guess that animal sound!
  • Listen to different types of music
  • Hide a sound making device in the room and have your child locate it.



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NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!