Sensory seeking wildness

Hey TOT Community:

I have a little one (age 5) that chronically dogs his feet into people he has done this since infancy and it was worst during toddlerhood. But it’s still chronic.

We have tried items that vibrate, providing additional surfaces/textured to explore, we have lots of barefeet time inside and out, he stands or sits on dynamic surfaces or LEGO boards, he even now has plyo boxes and a trampoline for jumping.

While it’s better now than as a toddler since he has more skills I don’t know how else to satisfy these intense sensory needs.

I’d love any ideas from those with kids who need all the input because they’re always crashing into things and digging their toes into you.



@lauren_minichello Hey there! Welcome!! This is very interesting and I’d love to hear more! When you say “digs his feet into people” do you mean when you are sitting on the couch together? Is it when he’s trying to relax?

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Since he was an infant he would press his feet into any surface available when in his high chair. Preferred a ring sling for contact over other carriers in which his feet would dangle.

Even today he will aim to have his feet touching something when at rest or engaged in an activity.

We’ve done lots of work with Our PTs OTs And followed through with Their recommendations but we never seem to find his threshold for needed input and are always looking for other options.

We have done vibration, exposure to different temperature, body taps, physio tape (this is probably one of our favorites), body socks, Lycra wrapped around the bottom of his bed, standing on different surfaces etc.

Super interesting! It seems like he may be searching for that proprioceptive input to “ground” him and give him so crucial feedback to where is body is in space. A few questions:

How would you describe his coordination and balance with gross motor activities?

Does he seem to be afraid when his feet leave the ground i.e. when in a swing or when climbing the ladder to a slide? Does he enjoying swinging at the park?


Just a thought- if it’s specifically with his feet-have you tried tighter shoes? We usually buy our kids shoes with an extra inch or so to allow for growth, but maybe he would benefit from a snugger fit to help give him that input specifically into his feet


Oh my son looks like he has no clue where his body is in space often. He enjoys swings both in the park, his gorilla gym, and most importantly his aerial swing (he uses it like a hammock).

We have never tried a snug fitting shoe and always made sure they fit perfectly. He adores his one pair of leggings for the clinginess (I think).

Hi there! Have you tried any type of compression garments or weighted items? How did he respond? Some kiddos have an extremely high threshold and it’s incredibly challenging to find ways to meet that. Props to you for seeking out help! Love @tots-allison idea of shoes that essentially “hug” the feet. That is my thought with compression garments…


Has his Post Rotary Nystagmus been tested? Even though he likes to swing, it doesn’t necessarily mean he is processing the movement. Vestibular processing can have much to do with proprioception as well. Just a thought to add here. Also, Reflex Integration is pivotal in sensory processing. Have is reflexes been tested as well? My personal approach is always to find the root of the problem. Would love to know the answer to these questions and I could give more input on this!!

However, many of the suggestions given, are good ones! In addition to my above questions, I would add using crunchy foods like carrots and chewy food like gummy bears to satisfy the deep pressure he is seeking.

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I definitely suspect a “grounding” aspect here. I suspect he also has a vestibular processing issue that plays into this.

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@lauren_minichello I would definitely speak to his OT and talk specifically about his vestibular processing. If he’s not adequately processing vestibular information, which contributes to body awareness, balance, muscle tone and overall coordination, he may be trying to compensate by using other systems to get that crucial information (proprioceptive and tactile systems). Please keep us updated!!! :slight_smile:
PS Love the picture, so cute!!

He loves both compression garments and weighted things BUT what’s graded for him isn’t his favorite for example the light weighted blankets Are meh but an adult weighted one over his legs is awesome.

We have really played with And used a lot of Physio tape to give extra awareness. It’s actually part of the package we used to stop his big toe from dropping when running.

We embed a lot of stuff with a heavy ball into ot/Pt activities.

Post rotary Nystagmus has not To my knowledge been tested, it’s suspected he has an ATNR, and so we put in a lot of activities with movement plus head turned to side (riding a trike cleaned up quickly afterwards).

We are virtual OT for a bit longer so I will bring up (not sure if it’s one of those things you need to be in person to test)

Thanks so much.

We’re delving into the interoception curriculum next week and I’m so excited to see if that helps his body move more easily/know where he is in space

If she is familiar with this test, can do it with an office chair and instruct you how to pace the rotations and tilt the head. Absolutely!

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