As I mentioned last week, “sensory seeking” is used to describe someone who prefers, actively looks for and/or “craves” sensory input. Closely observing a person’s behavior will help you identify their sensory preferences. I will give some examples of what a “sensory seeker” might look like for each of the senses. A person that seeks visual input may prefer to have rooms bright and well lit. They may prefer a lot of decorations of the walls with bright colors and elaborate pictures. As children, they may prefer to play with toys that have many bright colors or
lights. A person that seeks auditory input (sound) may prefer to have background noise (music, TV) when engaged in activities. They may prefer to sleep with white noise or a fan. A person that seeks touch input may enjoy or give firm hugs. They may prefer to wear tighter fitting clothing or dress in layers. This person may prefer to sleep with heavy blankets or surrounded by pillows. A person who seeks touch input may be observed to simply touch things. For example, when walking through a store they may be more likely to reach out and
touch more items, particularly if the item or texture looks new or intriguing. A person that seeks smell input may prefer strong smells such as lemon or cinnamon or they may simply be observed to smell items. For example, they may smell food items prior to eating them. A person seeking taste input may prefer foods with strong flavors (spicy, salty, sour). Lastly, a person that seeks movement input may be seen shaking their legs or feet during activities that require sitting and/or they may require getting up and moving (going to get a drink, going to
throw away a piece of paper). As children, they may prefer to move about the room, running and jumping, engaging in active play. It is important to remember that these are simply preferences, not dysfunctions of the sensory and nervous system. We all have personal preferences…many of which are related to our
~Sarah Eller, Occupational Therapist
Daily tips, activities, and suggestions on how to naturally embed speech, language, play, fine motor, gross motor, and cognitive skills into your child's day, often using the materials already found in your home environment.
Marena Mitchell is a speech-language pathologist