#287- 5 Steps to Creating a Sensory Circuit

by Jessica Hill, COTA/L & Rachel Harrington, COTA/L, AC December 20, 2023

#287- 5 Steps to Creating a Sensory Circuit

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5 Steps to Creating a Sensory Circuit

What is a sensory circuit? We use this term to describe an obstacle course that is used for a sensory diet routine.

A sensory circuit can be used in the clinic as a way to meet your client's sensory threshold. It can be used at home as your child's daily sensory diet routine as well!

We break down how to create an effective sensory circuit using 5 steps: identify the child’s sensory preferences; create a visual support / tool; add a vestibular and a proprioceptive activity; add 1 or 2 more sensory components; and finally, add a goal.

Try a sensory circuit today!

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Links

All Things Sensory Podcast Instagram

Harkla YouTube Channel

Harkla Website - Shop Sensory Products!

Harkla Instagram

Ep. 187 What it Means to Meet the Sensory Threshold

YouTube: Parenting a Sensory Seeker

YouTube: Parenting a Highly Sensitive Child

Free Sensory Checklist in Description of YouTube Videos

Freebies Page for To-Do Done Visual

YouTube: 5 Multisensory Activities

Multi Sensory Activity Course

Crazy Caterpillar Game (Walmart)

 

5 Steps To Creating A Sensory Circuit

Creating a sensory circuit can be transformative for children with sensory challenges, whether you are a parent, therapist, or educator. It can be a simple and effective way to help regulate the nervous system, leading to improved behavior and increased confidence.

Step 1: Identify Sensory Preferences and Needs

Understanding a child's sensory threshold is crucial, as it involves identifying what sensory input they either seek out or tend to avoid. This insight is invaluable for parents and therapists, as it guides them in tailoring their approaches and interventions to meet the child's unique sensory needs. 

Step 2: Choose Visual Aids

Visual support can help children follow the sequence of activities. Some favorite examples include:

  • Whiteboards for drawing pictures and writing activities.
  • Picture systems with velcro to stick on the wall or carpet.
  • Visual schedules.
  • Activity cards.
  • Canva stock images or Polaroid photos for a personalized touch.

Step 3: Incorporate Vestibular and Proprioceptive Activities

Including vestibular and proprioceptive activities is crucial for sensory integration and behavior regulation. Typically, it starts with a vestibular activity followed by a proprioceptive one to help reorganize the nervous system. 

Vestibular Activities: 

  • Swinging.
  • Jumping.
  • Rolling. 
  • Somersaulting.

Proprioceptive Activities: 

  • Jumping and crashing onto cushions or a crash pad
  • Crawling
  • Vibration (using a vibrating pillow or similar tool)
  • Any activity that works the muscles and provides compression

Step 4: Add Other Sensory Components

Now, add one or more additional sensory components to your circuit. You don't need to include all of them—pick a few that are either enjoyable or challenging for your child:

  • Auditory: Metronome clapping, listening to music. 
  • Tactile: Sensory bins, dry brushing, vibration.
  • Visual: Infinity loop tracing. 
  • Olfactory: Scented scrunchies. 
  • Oral Motor: Blowing a pom-pom along the floor with a straw.

Remember, the goal is to create a balanced circuit without overwhelming your child. Start simple and build complexity as needed.

Step 5: Set a Goal for the Sensory Circuit

Adding a goal to your sensory circuit makes the activity purposeful. For example, it could be completing a puzzle, container play, or a game involving pieces. 

Incorporate homework activities like spelling words, handwriting, or math to combine cognitive learning with movement. For example, the Crazy Caterpillar game involves using tweezers to grab colored balls and placing them on a moving caterpillar. 

Implementing the Sensory Circuit

Once the sensory circuit is set up, teach your child how to navigate it. Start by demonstrating the activity and then support them as you guide them through the activities.

If the circuit is too easy, modify the activities to increase the challenge. For example, have them crawl backward through a tunnel instead of forward or clap on every other beat of a metronome instead of every beat.

Conclusion

Creating a sensory circuit is a fantastic way to support your child's sensory needs. Following these five steps, you can make a practical and fun sensory circuit in your home, classroom, or clinic. 


 

 

BORING, BUT NECESSARY LEGAL DISCLAIMERS


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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