Using a sensory diet for your child with autism

For your child with sensory processing difficulties, a sensory diet can be a really useful tool. Your food diet should ideally provide you with a balance of different food groups in order to ensure the best nutrition.

In the same way your child will benefit from a diet of different types of sensory input provided at intervals throughout the day to help them remain regulated.

This is a really useful tool for parents who like having a structure to work from and are good at sticking to plans. However there are certain elements that are essential to make your child's diet effective.

The diet must be designed for your individual child

Each child is unique and has specific sensory needs.For this reason it will not be effective to use your friend's sensory diet prescribed by their occupational therapist for their unique child and try to use it with your child.

If you feel that your child has some sensory difficulties I would strongly recommend that you see an occupational therapist or participate in a program like JumpStart in order to obtain a diet that will meet your unique child's sensory needs.

It must fit in with your lifestyle

I have met numerous parents who have shown me fantastic looking diets that Occupational Therapists have provided them with, only to be told that they are not really following them. When questioned why, the most common response is that they don't have time, or it isn't realistic to expect them to fit in the recommended activities at the times that are suggested.

As a parent you need to be honest with your occupational therapist. If they are suggesting that you do something that you know you are not going to manage, tell them and work together to find a way to provide the sensory input that your child needs in a way that works in with your family.

One of the greatest benefits of JumpStart is that I have so much time with the parents to really work out what will and will not work for them and therefore provide realistic sensory diets.

Your child's sensory needs will change

As your child grows and develops so to will their ability to process sensory input and their sensory needs may change. They will also find themselves in different environments with different demands such as starting kinder or school.

For this reason the diet of sensory input that you provide them with may need to be adapted as your child grows and changes.

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