Sensory Integration can be a vital part of our kids’ therapy and one which is so often overlooked by professionals.  Incorporating a sensory diet into your child’s daily routine can be a simple step that may help lessen the severity of sensory seeking behaviours.  A sensory diet need not be complicated.  Depending on your child’s needs it can be as simple as incorporating a number of fun targeted activities throughout the day.  A good Occupational Therapist (OT) will be able to develop a programme to suit your child.  However, if you do not have access to an OT, putting together a sensory diet is not difficult.

Janice Agarwal is an experienced paediatric physiotherapist , based in the US, who specialises in PWS.  She is the author of an extremely informative book called ‘Therapeutic Interventions for the Child with Prader-Willi Syndrome’.  A section of this book is dedicated to sensory integration and how to recognise when our children are displaying sensory seeking needs and how to help them.

Click here to read ‘The Young Child with Prader-Willi Syndrome Physical and Sensory Issues and Recommendations’ by Janice Agarwal in conjunction with PWSUSA.

Janice Agarwal gave a brilliantly informative presentation at the PWS USA 2021 conference on ‘Creating a Sensory Diet’, where she takes you through the steps required to create one.  

We highly recommend you watch ‘Creating a Sensory Diet’

Before watching, download these worksheets to help you get the most from the presentation:

1. Sensory Integration for my Child Download

2. ‘The Young Child with Prader-Willi Syndrome Physical and Sensory Issues and Recommendations’ by Janice Agarwal in conjunction from PWSUSA. Download

An Example of the rewards possible by incorporating a sensory diet into your daily activities.

Here is an example of how a 14 month child with PWS displayed sensory seeking behaviours. 

Cora hated having her teeth brushed.  She was unable to apply correct pressure to buttons (even though she had the strength to do so), she didn’t like having her hands held, making hand over hand work difficult.  She regularly twirled/rotated her wrists (increasing when frustrated or when tired).  Her parents read ‘The Young Child with Prader-Willi Syndrome Physical and Sensory Issues and Recommendations’ by Janice Agarwal.  From this they were able to understand the following:

  • Hate having her teeth brushed – Weak Tactile System
  • Unable to apply correct pressure to buttons – Weak Proprioceptive
  • Did not like having her hands held – – Weak Tactile System
  • Regularly twirled/rotated her wrists – Weak Tactile System
  • Low tone – Weak Vestibular

Luckily a lot of activities which help strengthen these sensory systems overlap, helping to strengthen multiple systems at once.  From the above exercise Cora’s parents were able to build a sensory diet into her daily play time.  Cora’s sensory diet looked like this:

Daily Activities

  • Storytime in the rocking chair
  • Wilbarger brushing protocol, along with Joint Compressions. Use a therapeutic brush! Initially five times per day but reduced within two months to twice daily, as hand twirling reduced.  As Cora became more mobile her parents were able to stop the joint compressions.  After four months they were also able to stop the brushing.  They periodically return to the Wilbarger brushing protocol if required. The tell tale sign that Cora’s Tactile system needs strengthening is when she tends to hold her hands mid air.  This is noticeable in the evening during her winddown time, watching Peppa Pig on the couch.
  • Time with vibrating toys daily (min 10 minutes).
  • Time spinning daily.  (Initially Cora could spin endlessly.  Her parents always tired before her!)
  • Big hugs and squeezes.

Weekly Activities

  • Swimming
  • Painting
  • Time on scoot board 
  • Hot/Cold water play
  • Sensory bucket play (use everything and anything that will give good sensory feedback – different textures, sounds, smells)
  • As Cora grew her parents were able to include playground activities into her sensory diet!

Cora is now 22 months old and loves holding hands!  She does not have a problem with teeth brushing, rotating her wrists, or pressing buttons. The changes her parents see in Cora have been immense and extremely rewarding.  Simple activities like ‘Row row row your boat’ which Cora always hated (due to hand holding) now are a source of fun!

Free Sensory and Welcome Pack

PWSAI see the value in sensory play and so have put together a sensory pack for all parents of newly diagnosed children.  Below is a picture of a sensory pack (please note This pack is only to be used under supervision and individual items may change depending on supply).    It contains toys which our kids loved and benefited from playing with.  We hope you love them as much as we did! 

To request your Sensory and Welcome Pack just complete the New Diagnosis Form on the Dear New Parent Tab here

The pack is available to Ireland residents only.