Solutions for 7 Types of Sensory Needs

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So many different sensory types and so many different sensory needs. What is a parent or teacher to do? Are you overwhelmed by sensory information?

As a physical therapist, I have been fortunate to have a few great occupational therapists orient me to the different sensory types. It has made a tremendous impact on my ability to help kids with their motor needs as the sensory and motor systems are so closely related. If I can address both together, then I’m able to reach many milestones otherwise inhibited by their sensory needs.

You can say the same for a teacher. If sensory needs are addressed in a classroom, then the ability to learn will be more attainable. Here’s what I’ve come to understand in layman’s terms about different sensory needs. These are just general guidelines but may help you in your teaching or practice.


1. Proprioceptive Needs:

  • Loves a tight hug or firm touch
  • Grasps objects too tightly
  • Craves deep pressure and vibration
  • May appear clumsy
  • Fears uneven surfaces or stairs/escalators
  • Prefers jumping or skipping to just walking
  • Has floppy/low muscle tone

Proprioceptive Solutions:


2. Vestibular Needs:

  • Loves to hang upside down
  • Has floppy/low tone
  • Craves movement that is fast or intense
  • Loves to spin
  • Always in motion

Vestibular Solutions:


3. Visual Needs:

  • Avoids bright lights
  • Shifts gaze to avoid eye contact

Visual Solutions:

  • Sunglasses are a must
  • Use a mirror or animal toy to practice eye contact
  • Make sure wall decorations are soothing and not over stimulating


4. Olfactory Needs

  • Super sensitive to smells like air freshener, coffee, etc.

Olfactory Solutions:

  • Use more natural deodorizers like essential oils
  • Use an electric air deodorizer for the room


5. Tactile Needs:

  • Avoids clothing in general
  • Touches things that are smooth or soothing
  • Avoids being barefoot or walking on grass, sand, carpet
  • Avoids seams and wears socks inside out
  • Cleans hands a lot
  • Does not like showers or getting wet
  • Does not like being touched
  • Avoids certain textures or textured material

Tactile Solutions:


6. Auditory Needs:

  • Easily startled by fireworks, loud noise, or crashing sounds
  • Turns volume up on music or TV
  • Always tapping feet or hands, or likes drumming

Auditory Solutions:

  • Provide noise-cancelling earmuffs
  • Encourage drum or percussion lessons


7. Oral Needs:

  • Bites
  • Chews on sleeves, non-food objects, fingers, etc.
  • Picky eater
  • Craves spicy, salty, or sour flavors
  • Does not like textured food
  • Does not like brushing teeth or having teeth cleaned

Oral Solutions:

  • Provide crunchy snacks such as apples, carrots or celery
  • Provide a favorite chewy to have on hand
  • Provide chewing gum
  • Encourage use of electric toothbrush or oral vibration device


Getting to know your child’s sensory preferences can make the difference between frustration and success. If you need additional assistance with sensory preferences, reach out to your local occupational therapist who can be of great assistance in understanding your child’s sensory needs.

2 years ago by 0

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