Sensory-seeking behavior is common in those with sensory processing disorders. While it’s usually harmless, there are instances where sensory-seeking can become more extreme and even potentially violent, so it’s important to channel that energy.
In this post, we’ll be looking at what a sensory seeker is and how to encourage safe sensory stimulation and proprioceptive sensory-seeking behaviors.
A ‘sensory seeker’ is the name given to a person, often a child, who craves lots of sensory stimulation and will attempt to meet that need however they can. You can learn about the benefits of sensory stimulation on our blog.
Stimming is one way that sensory seekers might attempt to fulfill that craving themselves, such as by flapping their hands, making noises they enjoy or clapping.
When people think of sensory processing disorders, they are often more familiar with sensory avoidance or hypersensitivity, where the individual can become more easily overwhelmed by sensory stimulation and will try to avoid that where possible.
It’s important to be aware that people with sensory processing disorders may experience both sensory-seeking behavior and sensory avoidance, and their preferences may change over time.
In order to avoid dangerous or harmful sensory-seeking behaviors, try channeling that craving into a more structured outlet. The most important step is to learn what the individual is seeking, and what they are avoiding – for example, a child with autism might dislike being touched by other people, but enjoy pushing their hands into mud. Take it slow and let them guide you in what helps them and what is unpleasant or triggering.
There are endless ways to engage with what a sensory seeker is craving! Some of our favorite things to do include:
Our superactive sensory room package includes a variety of products that use colors, sounds, textures and movement to stimulate the senses, including a sensory projector bundle, superactive bubble tube and bean bag chair.
If an individual doesn’t have access to a sensory room at home or school, a sensory corner can be a great space-saving alternative.
Fulfilling sensory input at home is one thing, but doing it in public can be much more difficult, and that’s where portable sensory products come in. The Perfect Petzzz range is ideal for hugging and holding, and chewelry can help with the impulse to bite or chew. Headphones can provide music or sounds while blocking out potentially overwhelming sounds in the area (for children, this sound must be monitored to ensure it is not at dangerous levels).
If you’re interested in having a collection of portable sensory products, check out our sensory backpack, which comes with a real variety of portable toys and tech to keep users engaged.
While focused activities are great for development and comfort, it can be just as beneficial for an individual’s sensory diet to engage with sensory elements of daily life, particularly with children.
Meeting visual and auditory sensory needs can be much simpler than proprioceptive, which refers to the body’s sense of place in the world.
Some examples of proprioceptive sensory-seeking behavior might be clapping, writing with heavy pressure (even to the point of ripping the page), enjoying falling, running and jumping and swinging on desks.
To focus this energy, try deep pressure therapy and movement that employs the muscles and joints.
So now you know a bit more about sensory-seeking behaviors and what a sensory seeker is. If you would like to learn more about sensory processing disorders, please take a look at our blog. If you would like to create your own sensory room, check out our free sensory room design service or contact us to learn more.
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