#174 - Brainstorming Session with a School Based OT

by Jessica Hill, COTA/L & Rachel Harrington, COTA/L, AC October 13, 2021

#174 - Brainstorming Session with a School Based OT

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Brainstorming Session with a School Based OT

Something special happens when a conversation unfolds as a brainstorm between friends. That’s exactly what we do during this episode, with Nicky, a school-based OT with a background in in-patient rehabilitation. We talk about how to identify behavior and sensory related problems, and how going to the sensory room and taking a movement break can serve as useful strategies to help kiddos get back into their bodies. We talk through the role of teachers in facilitating helpful exercises for children, and curating a sensory diet to provide children with the ongoing support they need. We hope you join us to listen in on our chat today!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • An introduction to Nicky, a school-based OT in Georgia.
  • How being an in-patient rehab OT compares to being a school-based OT.
  • What her work entails, evaluating kids for special ed services, doing behavior assessments, establishing if something is behavior or sensory related. 
  • How teachers can facilitate helpful exercises for children.
  • Sensory sticks as a tool for regulation for breaks throughout the day.
  • The role of sensory diets in providing children with what they need.
  • Babies Can’t Wait, the work she is involved in with birth to three year olds.
  • How sewn weights with beads differ from flexible weights for weighted vests.



“In order for our kids to be successful at school academically, they need to have a good foundation, good mind and body health.” — Nicky[02:05]
“ I get asked a lot like the different like, is it sensory related? Is it behavior related? And it's so hard to tease out sometimes, because I think sometimes it's both.” — Nicky[02:41]


Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

The Pyramid of Potential


All Things Sensory on Instagram

All Things Sensory on Facebook


Set up an obstacle course in 5 easy steps!



Full Show Transcript

[00:00:02] RH: Hey, there. I’m Rachel.


[00:00:04] JH: And I’m Jessica and this is All Things Sensory by Harkla. Together, we’re on a mission to help children, families, therapists, and educators to live happy and healthy lives.


[00:00:11] RH: We dive in to all things sensory, special needs, occupational therapy, parenting, self-care and so much more. In each episode, we share raw, honest, fun ideas and strategies for everyone to implement into daily life.


[00:00:24] JH: Thank you so much for joining us.


[00:00:31] RH:Hey, everyone. Welcome to Episode 174 of All Things Sensory by Harkla. I'm Rachel.


[00:00:38] JH:I'm Jessica.


[00:00:41] RH:We're so happy, we're almost speechless.


[00:00:45] JH:Today, we have a really cool episode for you. It is a two on one brainstorming session with a club member. Now, the Harkla Sensory Club is no longer a thing. So, sad topic.


[00:01:03] RH:I know. When we recorded this episode, she was in the club. She was a club member. She's an occupational therapist, but we wanted to record this brainstorm, this two on one brainstorm session because we just feel like it's raw, it's honest.


[00:01:21] JH:Everyone can benefit from the things that we're talking about, and she was kind enough to say, “Yes, we could record it and put it on the podcast.” So, thank you, Nikki. Should we jump in?


[00:01:34] RH:Let’s do it.




[00:01:35] JH:We were talking about like brainstorming one on one sessions and how that we kind turned it to a podcast episode, so thank you.


[00:01:43] N:You’re welcome.


[00:01:45] RH:Okay, so your school-based therapist, where are you at in the world?


[00:01:47] N:I'm in Georgia.


[00:01:51] RH:Georgia. Okay. How long have you been practicing?


[00:01:53] N:I started off as an inpatient rehab therapist for adults. But then this is my fourth year as a school-based OT.


[00:02:02] JH:Which do you prefer?


[00:02:04] N:The school based.


[00:02:07] RH:So cool. Yeah, I did my second round of field work in a school. And it's a whole different world.


[00:02:20] N:Yeah, so it definitely is.


[00:02:20] JH:I haven't actually worked in a school before. I feel a little bit –


[00:02:24] RH: Left out?


[00:02:26] JH: Yeah. I'm here for it. I can give you all the strategies.


[00:02:30] N:No, it's definitely – it has its pros and cons for sure.


[00:02:33] RH:Okay, so lay it on us? What are your thoughts? What are you struggling with, questions?


[00:02:39] N:Stuff that I get asked a lot like the different like, is it sensory related? Is it behavior related? And it's so hard to tease out sometimes, because I think sometimes it's both. So, I just kind of wanted your thoughts on like, what you thought, how to tease that out a little bit better. Because as like a school therapist, I get that question. Probably at least once a week.


[00:02:58] RH:You get it from teachers?


[00:03:02] N:Teachers, or if it's a kid that they're looking at evaluating for special ed services, just trying to put strategies in place, and then sometimes too, if they're getting, they're looking at a behavior assessment and looking at like the function of their behavior, then they'll ask about sensory.


[00:03:18] RH:What's your typical response?


[00:03:23] N:I usually will say that I can offer some insight by observing but I mean, observing as like, within the context of this full schedule. It is hard because sometimes you have like a half an hour to do it. So, you don't always get everything. So just try and to kind of get more information from them about what kind of behaviors are you seeing. You tried to break and you tried sensory, like different strategies, have that been effective, or is it not effective?


[00:03:50] RH:So, have they, at this point, when they're coming to you, have they tried any sensory strategies for these challenging kiddos?


[00:03:57] N:They did things. Most of the time, I would say no.


[00:04:02] RH:Have you given any specific strategies for them to try? Or thought about it today.


[00:04:12] N: Yeah. Sometimes, we have a few – I have two schools and one of them has a sensory room or we call it the just right room. So, it's a sensory room that has obstacle course and swing, different bubble tubes and stuff like that. So, some of our kids will recommend taking them in there. But getting it to be consistent is always our struggle.


[00:04:31] JH:My first thought is that we do have a podcast episode on this topic. I don't know if that's something that you could recommend to teachers or not like, “Hey, I actually know this podcast you might check out”, but that could be an option of maybe like if we make a handout and maybe a little checklist and then you would include that on it.


[00:04:54] RH:Yeah. How easy is it for you to like create a little sensory diet or a little tool to give the kiddo to try in the classroom? Hearing or something with little cards on it, that if they're feeling, are they high functioning kiddos? Are they aware enough to be able to know that they have this tool? If they practice, they can use it. Something like that.


[00:05:20] N:Possibly, yeah.


[00:05:20] RH:That would be an option. But what I would do, if it's possible, when you're making the tool with the kiddo, whether it's a hearing little sensory diet, or like a sensory diet visual that they have, or a first then, teach them the activities in your session and practice it and go through almost roleplay. If they're upset, or if they're frustrated, or if they're out of control, go through those different activities and say, “Okay, we're going to first do five chair pushups, and then we're going to push our hands together really hard. And then we're going to fish our tongue to the roof of our mouth. And then we're going to take four deep breaths.”


So, practice going through that, whether it's a visual, whatever visual that you find works for the kiddo. So that way, they know exactly what to do in the moment. And then maybe you can have a cue with the teacher, that the teacher can like tap on the kiddo shoulder. So that way, the kid knows that they need to try their strategies, or they need to check in, identify, “Oh, I'm in the yellow zone or whatnot. I need to try something to get my body back.”


[00:06:30] N:I like that idea a lot. Because sometimes we’ll recommend going into the sensory room or movement break. And when I get a lot of feedback from teachers, which I totally understand, is like they don't have time to do it. So that's my biggest struggle is trying to give them something that they will actually use instead of being, “This is what I would recommend.” Sometimes doesn't always get followed through with.


[00:06:53] JH:I do wonder too, if the teachers can have a way to kind of track the behaviors for a specific kid, so that they can identify, “Okay, this child has a meltdown every single time we start a math lesson.” And then they can identify, “Okay, maybe it's not necessarily sensory based, it's more that this child is getting some anxiety because this math lesson is coming up and it's a really challenging subject for them.” If they can identify it that way, and kind of see that pattern of behavior, then they can implement specific strategies for that specific time of day when that child struggles.


[00:07:34] N:Yeah, sometimes they'll do, if they recommend a functional behavior assessment, that's what they kind of do is look at like, what did they see in the behaviors? What happens before? What happens after? I wonder too, if I should have the teachers actually, when they're asking these questions, have them start tracking it informally, just to get more information.


[00:07:52] RH:The other thing that I would love to see, and maybe you can teach the teachers that all of the kiddos need sensory input throughout the day. I had a training yesterday with a preschool and I said, “Here's an example of what a sensory schedule would look like for the kiddos.” And this was preschool, so it's a little bit different. But it's like, you get there, you have some music on, you have the whole classroom doing all of these sensory activities. They're listening to music, they're doing cat cows, they're crawling around the room, and it takes five minutes before the lesson starts. So, before the class starts, and then they all kind of have a little bit of sensory input in there.


It would be cool if you could teach the teachers that the whole classroom would be more likely to be set up for success if everyone is participating as well as they can in just super simple sensory activities. That'd be ideal.


[00:08:58] JH:I agree that that is just – that's like when we envision the perfect school plan. The day with sensory, you have some lessons, you just do more sensory, some lessons, you get up and move every 40 minutes or so.


[00:09:13] N:I will say like I can imagine teachers are pretty good. It's like as they get older, they kind of guys up.


[00:09:21] JH:I think it's so hard because you get like stuck in your routine. And you know what works for the majority of the kids. So, that's what you're going to do. So, it can be hard to try. Nobody likes new things. New Things are hard.


[00:09:38] N:Yeah.


[00:09:39] RH:But if you have it written out, and we could give it to teachers or you can give it to the teachers a new school of, “Hey, here's some sensory from the activities that you can do with the whole class.”


[00:09:52] JH:“It takes like five minutes.”


[00:09:54] RH:And you just run through those exercises, and make sure that they are exercises that the teachers know and they're familiar with. Or if not, you can have like a little demo, or something like that so they can see exactly what to do, how long it's going to take, when to do it. Before school, mid-morning, before lunch, after recess, and then before they leave. So, five. That's what? A total of 30 minutes. Can I take 30 minutes out of their day to do that?


[00:10:25] JH:In five-minute increments.


[00:10:25] RH:5, 10, 15, 20, 25. Yeah. It would eb about 30 minutes. I don't know. 30 minutes. I’ll add it up. That’s a lot.


[00:10:33] N:Yeah. Also, I don't know, I wonder if I word it like, you're probably 75 trying to give that to him. I’ll sort it out.


[00:10:44] JH:Yeah, exactly. You're spending five minutes trying to help this one student who's having a meltdown. Instead spend that five minutes with the entire class doing the sensory activity to get their brain and body ready.


[00:10:57] N:I think I saw an idea of popsicle sticks. I wonder if I did that and made like a sensory jar.


[00:11:03] RH:Sensory sticks. We should send her the visual that we have for sensory sticks.


[00:11:10] JH:You're going to get some sensory sticks.


[00:11:10] RH:We thought proprioceptive activities and vestibular activities. So, you could have kiddo draw two sticks of each or one stick of each or have the teacher draw them. And that's the sequence they do those activities and it's pretty straightforward. 


[00:11:25] JH:It’s fun. The sensory sticks can be fun, because maybe every student gets a turn to pick a sensory stick for that, morning sensory break. And then for the afternoon sensory break, it's another child's turn to pick a sensory stick, and they're all involved.


[00:11:43] RH:Plus, anything sticks are fun. 


[00:11:46] JH:The colorful ones, it’s even better.


[00:11:49] RH:Absolutely.


[00:11:51] N:Oh, that's true, too. They give out that. They like sort the colors by proprioceptive and vestibular. Oh, my gosh.


[00:11:59] RH:Do you have regulation?


[00:12:01] N:A little bit. And like my classroom, they're mostly for kids like with autism and stuff like that.


[00:12:01] RH:Because if we could get the whole classroom on the regulation, then you could have them draw sticks accordingly to the color. So, if they're feeling out of control, then they pick a red card or a red stick.


[00:12:21] JH:If they're feel tired, the blue stick to help them wake up.


[00:12:25] N:That’s a good idea too.


[00:12:27] RH:That might be more appropriate for the kiddos in the special ed classroom, if they're already using that verbiage.


[00:12:34] JH:But again, like you said before too, all these kids have sensory systems and I mean, all kids, all children can benefit from the verbiage and understanding the zones of regulation to identify their emotions and feelings and what their body is doing.


[00:12:50] RH:I was also thinking, going back to like the sensory versus behavior conversation, and it sounds like the teachers, kind of struggle to identify that, we have a handout for that, don’t we?


[00:13:02] JH:I wrote it down, because I can't remember if we have a handout for it or not.


[00:13:07] RH:I think it was in the club. So, we could send that to you and you could have your teachers look at it and check it off, so they can look at it. Johnny, let's see, is he checking these off? And are they more sensory behaviors? Are they more behavior behaviors? Whether they're trying to seek the positive or negative attention. So that could be something too, to help. You just need to make it as easy as possible for the kids.


[00:13:35] N:I think that's – because sometimes, my struggles, I think I make it more complicated than it has to be.


[00:13:43] RH:It’s so hard too, because as therapists we work with these children, typically one on one, but our teachers have an entire classroom to manage. I can't imagine trying to do sessions with 20 plus students. Basically, all day.


[00:13:57] N: Yeah, I know. I think about that, too. They have like so much going on. So, I do want to try to simplify it as much as I can.


[00:14:05] JH:Yes, definitely. So, we'll send you some of those resources, see what happens.


[00:14:12] N:Thank you.


[00:14:15] RH:What other things do you have? Anything else that we can help with?


[00:14:21] N:So, I do have a random question. This randomly came up with two of my kids lately, who like love, love, love spinning. Now, I'm trying to think, do I let them spin constantly?


[00:14:32] JH:Spinning?


[00:14:34] N:Spinning, yup. One of my teachers told me the other day that one of her kids spun around in circles for like four minutes, and was not dizzy at all. It's just like, my eyes would be going back and forth and she's like, “This kid’s would not go back and forth. He was like happy as a clam.” So, I don't know, do we encourage the spinning or I don't know if I'm trying to think of like if I try to replace it with something else that's coming in that input. I don't know. I have not had a kid like that. In this week alone, I've had two kids that do that pretty frequently.


[00:15:07] JH:Wow. Okay, what seekers. Holy cow.


[00:15:11] N:And this kid like he cannot – he's a kindergartener, and he cannot walk in a straight line. He's constantly running, constantly seeks out the pressure, constantly like running into people. So, he's a huge, huge sensory seeker.


[00:15:27] JH:Does he have access to any weighted items?


[00:15:30] N: Actually, I just gave his teacher yesterday like a weighted backpack to see if that'll help when he's in the hallway. So, we're going to try that we may try like a weighted vest, or compression vest. This is kind of our first round to see how this goes.


[00:15:45] RH:I would have, incorporate his spinning into a little obstacle course, if possible, or a little sensory diet. So, I would have him spin 5 or 10 times in each direction, and then I would follow that with some really deep pressure. So, if he could do a bear crawl, or a wheelbarrow walk, or chair pushups, some sort of –


[00:16:08] JH:Wall pushes.


[00:16:09] RH:Wall pushes, well walk ups, if that was available for him to do that, ball walk outs.


[00:16:15] JH:And maybe something ocular motor base in that like throwing up all the wall if he can or dribbling the ball. I know that might be kind of hard in the classroom. But I mean, if he has got a ball, if he has four minutes to spin. And this is maybe during downtime in the classroom or something. But something ocular and motor base would be good. And then I think when he is doing the spinning, if the teacher has a moment to go over and help him like count his spins. So, he spins 10 times counterclockwise, he stops and jumps 5 times. Spins 10 times clockwise the opposite direction, and then jumps 5 times so that it's more – he's getting that input, but it's more controlled, and there's a start and a stop. And then I think we have some sensory diets for like vestibular seekers or sensory cravers. We can send you some of those for some more ideas too.




[00:17:12] RH: We just want to take a minute and talk to you about our company, Harkla. Our mission at Harkla is to help those with special needs special needs live happy healthy lives. Not only do we accomplish this through the podcast, but we also have therapy products, easy to follow digital courses and the Harkla Sensory Club to try to bring holistic care to you and your family.


[00:17:30] JH: Listeners of the All Things Sensory podcast get 10% off their first purchase at Harkla with a discount code, “Sensory.” We’d recommend checking out some of our best-sellers, like the compression sensory swing, weighted blankets or our course on sensory diets. 


[00:17:45] RH: Here’s the best part, 1% of each sale gets donated to the University of Washington Autism Center to support autism research and fund scholarships to families in need to receive in-clinic therapy for their child.


[00:17:57] JH: Learn more about Harkla and all we have to offer at harkla.co. Don’t forget to use the discount code “sensory” to get 10% off your first purchase. That’s S-E-N-S-O-R-Y for 10% off.


[00:18:18] RH: The best part is, all Harkla orders come with a lifetime guarantee and free shipping.


[00:18:25] JH:You really can’t beat that.


[00:18:26] RH:No.


[00:18:27] JH: No, you can’t. Okay. Let’s go back to the show.




[00:18:31] RH:One other activity that you could do, I think it's called robot mapping.


[00:18:36] JH:I love robots.


[00:18:38] RH:Are you familiar with the activity?


[00:18:41] N:Or the astronaut training? I know a little bit about it.


[00:18:43] RH:So, the astronaut training program has these preparatory activities and one of them is robot zapping. It's a lot of that rotary vestibular input which sounds like it's what it’s seeking. So, you're standing like back to back or you’re standing against a wall and reaching across his body and tapping, you have different targets behind him. So, he has to go up and tap, and then down. So, if you're telling him the color that he has to twist, tap blue one, green, one, yellow, and all of those different planes. So, that one takes a little bit more of the ocular motor work with that rotary vestibular input.


[00:19:19] JH:I love that one too for having it be like a very specific control, start and stop like Rachel said. If there's like letters or colors on the targets behind him, then you either call out a letter or number, a color for him to find and touch or he just goes in order say it's like numbers one through six. So, he goes one, two, and he has to sequence it, can be really good.


[00:19:44] RH:Medicine ball slams, do you have access to like a medicine ball?


[00:19:49] N:Mm-hmm.


[00:19:48] RH:Carry the medicine ball around.


[00:19:50] JH:You could push it and roll it.


[00:19:53] RH:Roll it, hug it, maybe slamming it, that might be too much of a distraction.


[00:19:58] JH:Do it outside.


[00:20:00] RH:Yeah, true. But I'm thinking like three good sequences or three good activities in a sequence, repeating it three times if you can. He gets the rotary vestibular input that he's seeking, he gets some proprioceptive input, and then we get that visual, or that ocular motor activity as well and then repeat those.


[00:20:21] JH:And add them on to some sensory sticks so he takes them and it's written on the sensory stick. So, he does it with the sensory sticks.


[00:20:27] N:Yeah, that's a good idea. When he's like in a smaller classroom, or part of the day, so they could definitely do something like that.


[00:20:36] RH:He's my kind of kid. It's funny, Jess’ kid was here, at the office, and we have the compression swings, hung up, and he comes up and we're all in a meeting. And he's like, “Oh, mom, that smoothie you gave me was not good.” She's like, “What are you talking about?” He's like, “Well, I threw up a little bit.” And like, “Wait. What?” Only to find out he was eating his smoothie while spinning in the compression swing.


[00:21:07] N:Oh, my goodness.


[00:21:08] RH:Had an appropriate response, which was throwing up because swing while you are eating, or right after. So, we’re like, “Lesson learned.”


[00:21:21] N:Yes.


[00:21:23] RH:But I bet your kiddo wouldn't grow up at all.


[00:21:26] N: Probably not. No, because he's constantly moving.


[00:21:31] JH:Yeah, sure. And when he's spinning like that, oh, my gosh. When you said that his eyes didn't do anything after spinning so much. I'm like, “Okay.”


[00:21:40] RH:I'm curious if there was any trauma or stress in utero or during birth? I don't know if you could get that information and see, chat with his family and see if there were anything big factoids, because I found that when there's a lot of significant stressors on research articles, remember that [inaudible 00:21:57] shared with us in New Zealand, that when they had these big life stressors, there's more cortisol released, and they did a study on kindergarteners, who were significant sensory seekers, because of all of the stress that they had in utero. So, that would be something, I mean, if you could ask and find out without –


[00:22:19] N:I know. Now, I'm curious, because that is interesting.


[00:22:24] JH:Well, and especially if he's receiving outside OT services.


[00:22:28] N:I don't think he is. I think this is like kind of mom's like, just – I don't know if she realized it before or as he's gotten older, he’s just more and more active.


[00:22:41] RH:Here's how many crash pads in the room are or in the –


[00:22:44] N:That’s right. We have some beanbags, I just ordered a few more beanbags, because I set up my own kind of crash pad last year, but I am very much into that. I'm at two different schools this year, and my kids last year really liked it. So, I may need to look at trying to order another one.


[00:23:01] RH:Yeah, I feel like the crash pad would be great for this kiddo too so he can spin spin, spin and then crash and have that deep pressure as well.


[00:23:09] JH:For those kids to have the crash pad or that would be heavy enough, you can like hide items underneath and he has to full body lift it up.


[00:23:19] N:That's a good idea.


[00:23:21] JH:Pull it out. It's a puzzle. It's a puzzle piece and he jumps, and crashes again, goes underneath together. It's a little obstacle course, he's getting a lot of input from it.


[00:23:28] RH:Another fun one would be taking a body sock or a sheet and putting it over if it fits the right way, put it over the mean bag, and then putting the puzzle pieces in there. So, he has to like crawl in between the layers and get that deep pressure that way. Or make it like a tunnel so he’ll just go in and crawl out. That's my my demo of crawl. That's what I’m thinking. I would go through it. I'd be like, “Oh, you made it through. I get so claustrophobic.”


[00:23:59] N:My goodness. No, that's a good one, too.


[00:24:02] JH:But I guess the challenge would be making sure that it's functional and doable in the school setting. We're so used to the clinic setting and they can kind of do whatever, different from school, as far as I hear. It’s so different.


[00:24:19] RH:All right. Good. What else? Lay your questions on us. Anything else you got for us?


[00:24:24] N:Oh, goodness, I'm trying to think. So, I also did a little bit of babies can't wait. I don't know, but it's called babies can't wait where you guys are like birth to three. What are some good sensory strategies that you guys have found for like the little, little, little guys? Because I have a few kiddos who are like one and a half, two. So, they're getting to the point where they can kind of do more structured thing, but just kind of giving their parents strategies.


[00:24:50] JH:I think the first thing I would say is at home if they can have access to a therapy ball, maybe a beanbag or a crash pad, a popup tunnel.


[00:25:01] N:Like motor things?


[00:25:02] JH:Yeah, some like peg puzzles and blocks for stacking and you can make a really simple like, if the child is two years old and you want like a twostep obstacle course so the child gets the puzzle piece from the crash pad, crawls through the tunnel, puts it on, and then they go back and it's just like, it's so simple, but it's so effective. Then the therapy ball just because you can do so much with the therapy ball.


[00:25:29] RH:Sitting and bouncing and tummy bac and steamroller and kicking it. I'm even thinking you can only do the blanket swing and – 


[00:25:39] JH:Yeah.


[00:25:40] RH:– or crash on the couch. Blanket swing would be great more than to do at home, and then crawling into the pillows if you crash on the couch, you have pillows set up on the couch, they can like climb under the pillows and find a treasure and put it in the treasure box or grab those beaded necklaces, the Mardi Gras beads. And you can put those and stick swings on the walls. Hang them, have them hang the beads on the swings on the wall.


[00:26:12] JH:We need to do activities with Mardi Gras necklaces.


[00:26:16] RH:Can you take things into their home? Or are you doing virtual?


[00:26:18] N:Right now, we can't go in their home. I have kids that I see on daycare. I see one at like an ABA center.


[00:26:31] RH:Dang, you do it all.


[00:26:34] N:Not really. I have like three kids with baby scaling. That's about as many as I can handle.


[00:26:43] RH:Yeah, no kidding. I love that. Yeah, daycare, I would do a lot of regulating activities in daycare. A lot of like deep pressure, proprioceptive activities, a lot of auditory activities because my guess is that it's very overstimulating and overwhelming for a lot of the kiddos if they are sensitive to that. Noise cancelling headphones, music activities, metronome, activities, things like that. If they can handle it, because I experienced daycare it’s normally like crazy and busy and out of control.


[00:27:23] N: Those first couple times I was like, “Oh my goodness.”


[00:27:27] JH:You're overstimulated.


[00:27:29] N:Yes. So, when I do school, I realized that I'm definitely like auditory sensitive. Noises don't bother me, but I can't focus when it's noisy.


[00:27:42] JH:You need the listening program.


[00:27:48] N: I know.


[00:27:49] JH:Everyone does, really, but you know, definitely.


[00:27:52] RH:So, that would be my go-to. I would do like sensory bins with them, if you can. Do feathers, like feather boas, do that light touch, followed by the massage, pressure, vibration. If you can grab one of those vibrating stuffed animals from Walmart, they’re usually only around the holiday time, but they have them at Walmart and they could hug them.


[00:28:25] N:This holiday stuff, this probably could mean soon.


[00:28:28] JH: I mean, yeah.


[00:28:28] RH:We're going to have to get like 30 of them and stock out, send them to people.


[00:28:32] JH:They’re so good.


[00:28:32] RH:I know. “You get a vibration bear. You get a vibration bear.”


[00:28:40] N:Are they usually like in the toy section?


[00:28:43] RH: Usually like the gift section, right when you walk in the door. How they always have like, they have like the school section stuff right now right when you walk in there. And then they'll do like Halloween stuff and then they'll have Christmas gifts there. And they're usually there.


[00:28:57] N:Okay.


[00:28:58] JH:I feel like they're becoming more popular though.


[00:29:00] RH:But you still can't find online.


[00:29:03] JH:I know.


[00:29:03] N:That's crazy.


[00:29:04] RH:Yeah. But that would be cool for your little ones too. They’d probably love that.


[00:29:09] N:I think a few of it, definitely.


[00:29:12] RH:I just got a little a egg beater, like a kid's egg beater.


[00:29:18] N:The one with like the wheel kind or no? Not the wheel. What am I thinking of?


[00:29:21] RH:It is. They kind of move and twist the egg beater and you turn it and I use it today in my little guys back water and it was a lot of heavy work.


[00:29:33] JH:How big is it?


[00:29:34] RH:It's small, it's like this big. When you're not doing it in the water, it's not hard but with that resistance, it’s so good for the kiddos.


[00:29:43] JH:Even in just like a bin of water with a little bit of dish soap.


[00:29:51] N:Oh, the bubbles.


[00:29:52] JH:That would be super cool.


[00:29:55] RH:[inaudible 00:29:56].


[00:29:59] JH:Especially while it’s still warm outside.


[00:30:05] RH:So many good things.


[00:30:07] N:I know. 


[00:30:06] JH:And email with some follow stuff here.


[00:30:11] RH:Anything else that's coming to mind?


[00:30:15] N:So, sometimes I feel like I make –I think I said this, where I make make things way too complicated. When you guys are creating like sensory diets, what is your kind of your go to have like how you look at it? Because I like have different ideas, but I feel like it's kind of all over the place. And then I want to simplify it. So, I make it into this way more harder than it needs to be.


[00:30:36] RH:So, you need like a sensory diet recipe. Like a formula. That's what you need. 


[00:30:41] N:Yeah, I guess you would say that. I think about all these things. But I need to put them in a very simple.


[00:30:49] RH:When I'm doing sensory diets, like if the outcome is for, we'll say a sensory seeker, because that's typically who will give sensory diets to oftentimes. I always try to follow like a vestibular, a proprioceptive activity, vestibular probe or just right activity, and then like a sit down or like a fine motor or an oral motor. Sit down task.


[00:31:15] JH:I think it's important, you always want to meet their needs first. So, whatever the child is seeking out, so for example, your kiddo who spins. He's seeking out that rotary vestibular input so that's where you want to start. You want to give him the input that his body needs first.


[00:31:36] RH:So, if he's seeking the vestibular input, give him all of the vestibular input, or the rotary, rotary vestibular. Meet that threshold, rather than trying to give him away the vest because he hasn't met his threshold yet. So, give them that input that has listened to his body and talk to him about how his body feels and what he needs. And if he's able to identify, “I need to spin”, and then let him spin, do those controlled activities, and then follow up with either the best or appropriate receptive activity.


[00:32:04] JH:Actually, that'd be a great way to incorporate the weighted vest since you guys are getting ready to try that for this specific kiddo is, yeah, do that vestibular input, do some crashing, pushing or pulling, maybe a little bit more vestibular, and then some heavy work with that weighted vest and then the sit-down task with the weighted vest.


[00:32:26] RH:Okay, here's another one for you. What's in your way to weighted vest or your weighted backpack?


[00:32:33] N:Right now, we took little weights out of the weighted vest.


[00:32:39] RH:So, you could do obstacle course, to have him gather the weights, and each section of the –


[00:32:46] N: Good idea.


[00:32:46] RH:Has to put them in his backpack. And then by the time he's gone through it three or four times, he's got this heavy backpack, he can put it on and talk about how he feels. It's a superman backpack. It's going to give him all the superpowers and make him feel like he's in the green zone and he's going to just rock and roll. But that way he is involved in the way that backpacking, and he has that autonomy there.


[00:33:11] N:That’s a good idea.


[00:33:16] RH:A dollar activity.


[00:33:16] N:I know.


[00:33:17] RH:Just let us know how this work, though, okay?


[00:33:20] N: Yeah, I will. Because I feel like we have so many good ideas.


[00:33:27] JH:We'll follow up with an email with goodies too. We’ll send you. Hopefully it make it a little easier and the teacher’s lives easier.


[00:33:38] RH:Yes. Love it. Anything else before we let you go?


[00:33:43] N:I do have a very random question. So, I actually have a weighted vest from you guys. And I ordered it like two months ago, but one of the weights, I was like adjusting it for a kiddo and then whenever weights grip have –


[00:33:59] JH:It’s the Harkla?


[00:34:03] N:Oh, I don't know, maybe it was. It was one of the older ones from the sensory project.


[00:34:07] RH:Oh, so if it was one of mine, then yeah, that is an issue. Yeah. I'll send you some new ones.


[00:34:13] N:Okay. Do I need to send just the weight back?


[00:34:16] RH:I'll send you some sewn weights with the beads instead of the like flexible weights.


[00:34:24] N:Okay.


[00:34:24] RH:That way you have a little bit. Just let me know what size it is.


[00:34:26] N:It was for my one of my babies, so it was a 2T, I think.


[00:34:30] RH:Okay. I can send you some small weights to put in there.


[00:34:34] N:I think it was a 2 or 3T. I can double check and let you know.


[00:34:37] RH:That would be awesome. Yeah, for sure.


[00:34:39] JH:Looks like those solid ones would rip in half. It was just a good idea though.


[00:34:43] RH:They're great. If you can wrap them in like packing tape.


[00:34:47] N: That’s good idea. I was like, “What did I just do?”


[00:34:54] RH:It’s definitely happened before. But yeah, packing tape to hold it together until I get the new weights out to you would be – that’s the easiest way to kind of hold it together.


[00:35:01] N:Okay. But when I use it, his mom really liked it. So, I gave it to them to trial. So, they loved it.


[00:35:12] JH:Super cool.


[00:35:14] RH:All right, sweet. Well, thank you for chatting with us and bringing all your great questions.


[00:35:19] N:Well, thank you guys for giving me some good ideas.


[00:35:23] JH:You're going to have to let us know how everything goes. What works? What doesn't?


[00:35:29] N:Yeah, I can definitely let you know. We're able to do like obstacle course and we need to figure that out. I can I think we can make it work.


[00:35:37] RH:Awesome. Well, let us know if you have any questions, okay?


[00:35:41] N: Okay. Sounds good.


[00:35:42] RH:Nikki, bye.


[00:35:42] JH:We’ll talk to you later.


[00:35:43] N:Bye.




[00:35:46] RH:Okay, that was really fun. I always love doing the two on one brainstorm sessions.


[00:35:51] JH:I know. Me too. We always end up taking so many notes of like, new ideas that we can use for the podcast or for content, because she did this two on one session with us, we're going to email her a whole bunch of things.


[00:36:06] RH:That we talked about during the episode or during the brainstorm session. So, that's why we love them so much, is we do it with parents and therapists, educators. You just have a whole bunch of brands thinking new ideas to try. It's a fresh view on the same situation, which is so helpful for a lot of people.


[00:36:29] JH:Yes. So, we're really excited that we got to share this with you. We're excited to hear back from Nikki about all of the things that she tries, what works, what doesn't. If you could leave us a review on iTunes, that would be super helpful to spread the word that we're here. What else?


[00:36:48] RH:I'm just saying, if you listening, anyone listening out there, if you could benefit from doing something like this, let us know. Shoot us a DM on Instagram or an email and let us know if you'd like to do something like this and we can probably make it happen. It’s what we're here for. We're flexible thinkers, guys.


[00:37:10] JH:So, on that note, we will talk to you later.


[00:37:13] RH:Okay. Have an awesome rest of your day


[00:37:16] RH: Thank you so much for listening to All Things Sensory by Harkla. If you want more information on anything we mentioned in the show, head over to harkla.co/podcast to get all of the show notes. 


[00:37:28] JH:We always have the show notes and links, plus full transcripts to make following along as easy as possible for everyone. If you have follow-up questions, the best place to ask those is in the comments on the show notes or message us on our Instagram account, which is at @harkla_family. If you just search Harkla, you’ll find us.


[00:37:48] RH:Like we mentioned before, our podcast listeners get 10% off their first order at Harkla, whether it’s for one of our digital courses, one of our sensory swings, the discount code SENSORY will save you 10%. That code is S-E-N-S-O-R-Y. Head over to harkla.co/sensory to use that code right now so you don’t forget.


[00:38:10] JH:We’re so excited to work together to help create confident kids all over the world and work towards a happier healthier life.


[00:38:17] RH:All right. We’ll talk to you guys next week.




[00:38:21] RH:Just a friendly reminder, this is general information related to occupational therapy, pediatrics, and sensory integration. We do not know your or your child, therefore, we do not know any specific needs. Therefore, you should always refer back to your pediatrician and occupational therapist for more information.




While we make every effort to share correct information, we are still learning. We will double check all of our facts but realize that medicine is a constantly changing science and art. One doctor / therapist may have a different way of doing things from another. We are simply presenting our views and opinions on how to address common sensory challenges, health related difficulties and what we have found to be beneficial that will be as evidenced based as possible. By listening to this podcast, you agree not to use this podcast as medical advice to treat any medical condition in either yourself or your children. Consult your child’s pediatrician/ therapist for any medical issues that he or she may be having. This entire disclaimer also applies to any guests or contributors to the podcast. Under no circumstances shall Rachel Harrington, Harkla, Jessica Hill, or any guests or contributors to the podcast, as well as any employees, associates, or affiliates of Harkla, be responsible for damages arising from use of the podcast.

Keep in mind that we may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases. However, this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. We try our best to keep things fair and balanced, in order to help you make the best choice for you.

This podcast should not be used in any legal capacity whatsoever, including but not limited to establishing “standard of care” in a legal sense or as a basis for expert witness testimony. No guarantee is given regarding the accuracy of any statements or opinions made on the podcast.

Jessica Hill, COTA/L & Rachel Harrington, COTA/L, AC
Jessica Hill, COTA/L & Rachel Harrington, COTA/L, AC

Rachel Harrington, COTA/l, AC, CPRCS, and Jessica Hill, COTA/L, CPRCS are Harkla's in-house Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants (COTA) and Certified Primitive Reflex Clinical Specialists. They have been working with children for over 6 years in outpatient settings. They specialize in creating easy-to-digest, actionable content that families can use to help their child's progress at home. Jessica and Rachel are the in-house experts, content creators, and podcast hosts at Harkla! To learn more about Jessica and Rachel, visit the Harkla About Us Page. Make sure to listen to their weekly podcast, All Things Sensory by Harkla for actionable, fun advice on child development.

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