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Published in Autism Bay Area Magazine (Spring 2015): Sensory Activities for Calming Hyperactive Children

September 29, 2015

As published in Autism Bay Area Magazine (Spring 2015)

Parenting or teaching hyperactive children can be frustrating and futile without tools and techniques to help soothe the child who is constantly feeling restless. Hyperactive children are either moving continuously or talking incessantly or both. They have a hard time keeping their bodies still; they seem to be fidgeting and always “on the go.” It is common for them to speak loudly and interrupt others. They can’t sit still in class and have a low frustration tolerance. This inability to self-regulate makes it hard for them to interact socially, impedes their ability to focus, causes anxiety, and often makes it harder for parents and caregivers to help the child.

Hyperactivity can be a symptom of a variety of developmental differences such as, but not limited to, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Childhood Anxiety Disorders, Autistic Spectrum Disorder and Sensory Processing Disorder. Therapeutic activity to help support the hyperactive child may include psychosocial therapy, behavioral modification therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, psychiatric and sensory integration therapy.

Sensory integration therapy is a successful intervention approach used by skilled clinicians in occupational therapy. The approach helps override the hyperactive brain in a child, allowing them to better adapt to their environment. Sensory integration is how the brain processes and responds to various types of sensory input as a way of organizing different sensations for different tasks. In addition to using our five senses – sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste – we also have a “vestibular” sense and a “proprioceptive “ sense. Our vestibular sense supports our balance and movement. This sense tells us where we are in relation to the ground and things around us. Our proprioceptive sense gives us information about how our bodies are moving in space. This awareness is what helps us control and plan our motor movements. For example, the child who is under sensitive to proprioceptive information may run around banging into objects and people in order to feel their environment and their bodies in space making them appear hyperactive. Sensory integration therapy supports hyperactive children in their ability to learn, play and explore. It works in providing each child with just the right balance of sensory input to help them feel calm and organized in their environments, which in turn makes them feel more successful at school, in their homes and in social interactions.

The top 10 ways to calm a hyperactive child…


Winter Holiday Feeding Intensive

3 Weeks - Every Wednesday (Nov. 29th to December 13th)

We are pleased to offer a 3-week Winter Holiday Feeding Intensive this year!  Over the years many of our families have expressed that the holidays can bring added stress and chaos to mealtimes, as many kids are being offered foods they only see a few times per year.  Many approaches from well-intended relatives such as “try a bite,” “everyone is eating it, so you need to as well,”  “you can have dessert if you try a bite,” etc. aren’t effective and can cause meal time avoidance, meltdowns, or increase picky eating.

Our Holiday Food School will be inclusive of all winter-holidays our families at Little Hands celebrate and we will be asking families to share any traditional dishes or foods that they would like their child to explore in food school.  We are looking forward to sharing so many exciting new dishes with the kids this holiday season.

Details:  Wednesdays from 12:45pm – 1:45pm (3-5.11 years old) and 4:15pm – 5:15pm (6-10 years old)

  • First Session: Wednesday November 29, 2023
  • Last Session: Wednesday December 13, 2023

Is Feeding Therapy Right For My Kiddo?…

  • My child eats a restricted range or variety of foods (typically less than 20)
  • My child refuses entire categories of foods
  • My child cries, screams, or is easily distressed when new foods are presented
  • My child usually eats entirely different foods than the rest of the family at meal times
  • Mealtimes are an ongoing challenge
  • I would characterize my child’s feeding habits as extremely “picky”
  • My child is over-reactive to smells or tastes to the point of gagging or vomiting
  • My child has a history of sensory-processing difficulties
  • My child has motor development challenges 

How to sign up:

  • Space is limited, sign up early to reserve a spot for your child!
  • Food School sessions will be prepaid and given the nature of the feeding intervention and pacing of therapy activities in a group setting, we will not be offering make-ups for any missed food school sessions.

How Can We Join…

  • Space is limited, sign up early to reserve a spot for your child!
  • For families who are currently receiving OT feeding therapy OR have participated in a previous OT Feeding group: Please respond to this email with your interest and complete an updated food list & update any food allergies or dietary restrictions.
  • For new families who have not received OT feeding services: To ensure appropriate peer pairings and group treatment goals, we require an initial evaluation to assess group readiness and appropriate fit for our sensory-based intervention approach to feeding. Please email our clinic coordinator, Emily at to schedule an initial screening and submit our initial OT Intake and Feeding History Questionnaire forms that can be downloaded directly from our website.

Should you have additional questions about billing, please contact Emily!

Emily O’Brien |  (415)-758-2767  |