List of "Heavy Work" Organizing Proprioceptive Input

Sensory processing disorder heavy work activities are also known as proprioceptive activities. Sensory heavy work activities are physical activities that involve deep pressure and resistance on the muscles and joints.

Sensory heavy work activities can be very beneficial for children or anyone who is struggling with sensory processing difficulties. 

Heavy work activities are an important part of a child's sensory diet that is created by your child's Occupational therapist. A sensory diet are scheduled sensory activities for your child each day to keep them regulated. 

Boy with sensory processing disorder pulling wagon with a child in it List of

Sensory heavy work activities are when a child uses their muscles and joints to provide deep pressure and proprioceptive input. This can be quite calming and help your child regulate their nervous system. These activities also improve body awareness and coordination. 

Heavy work activities are particularly beneficial for children who have sensory processing disorder, autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). A sensory diet consists of sensory activities that provide different types of sensory input to help a child regulate and learn how to process sensory input. 

There are a lot of different sensory heavy work activities that can be included into a child's daily routine. There are two categories for heavy work activities and that is gross motor activities and fine motor activities. Gross motor activities are when a child uses their large muscles and can include sensory activities like as jumping, climbing, pushing, pulling, and carrying heavy objects. 

two children with sensory processing disorder pushing wheelbarrow for weight proprioceptive activity heavy work activities sensory processing disorder
A child climbing on a playground or a climbing wall are heavy work activities and will provide your child with proprioceptive input to their muscles and joints. Pushing or pulling a cart or wagon with weight can provide deep pressure for your child's muscles and joints. This can be calming on your child's the nervous system. Carrying heavy things like books or a heavy backpack can provide proprioceptive input to the muscles and joints.

Sensory fine motor activities involve your child's smaller muscles like squeezing or pinching. Some examples of fine motor heavy work activities would be squeezing a stress ball or playdough can provide deep pressure and resistance to the muscles in the hands. This can help to improve your child's hand strength and dexterity. Opening and closing clothespins can also provide your child with proprioceptive input to the fingers and hands.

Heavy work activities should always be incorporated into a child's sensory diet and routine. An occupational therapist can help to develop a sensory diet that is for your child's sensory needs. They can give you recommendations for which heavy work activities would be most beneficial for your child and their sensory needs. 

Heavy work activities should be done at home and at school. When your child is at school, your child's teacher can provide opportunities for heavy work activities during classroom transitions like carrying books, pushing/pulling chairs or climbing stairs. These activities can help to improve focus and attention when your child is in their classroom.  When your child is home with you, you can include heavy work activities into chores like bringing in shopping bags, raking leaves, shoveling or helping to take out the trash. 

Heavy work activities are an important part of your child's sensory diet and can have so many great benefits for children with sensory processing disorder. Sensory heavy work activities provide your child with the deep pressure they need and proprioceptive input. This can help your child to stay regulated and calm. 

List of "Heavy Work" Organizing Proprioceptive Input

1.  "Hot dog" game, where the child lies across the end of a blanket and is rolled (ends up in rolled up blanket)

2.  Carry heavy items (baskets with cardboard blocks, laundry, groceries with Mom, bag for teacher, etc.)

3.  Climbing activities (such as playground equipment)

4.  Swing from a trapeze bar

5.  Tug of war

6.  Push against a wall

7.  Scooter board to and from a designated location (sit and lie on stomach use arms to propel)

8.  Pull a heavy trash can

9.  Mop or sweep the floor and help out Mom

10.  Push and pull boxes with a few books in them

11.  Pillow cases with a few stuffed animals (for weight) and drag and pull them up a ramp, incline or stairs

12.  Place chairs at the desks at the end of the day, or take down at the beginning of the day

13.  Erase and wash the chalkboard

14.  Carry bean bags on head or shoulders and walk across a room, weighted vests, belts, wrist weights. Carry heavy pillow or cushions

15.  Move chairs or equipment across the room

16.  Use theraband or tubing attached to a door and let it snap (supervision required)

17.  Take cushions off of the sofas, vacuum under them and put them back. can also climb on them, hide under, jump in them and play sandwich games with them

18.  Push furniture around the house, room to room, rearrange bedroom furniture

19.  Pull other children around on a sheet or blanket

20.  Push teacher around on a wheeled chair or scooter board

21.  Pull or push someone while they sit on a scooter board holding  HULA HOOP

22.  Roller skate uphill

23.  Pull yourself up a ramp on a scooter board

24.  Walk up a ramp or incline or climbing activities

25.  Yard work, including mowing the lawn, raking grass or leaves, pushing wheelbarrow

26.  House work including vacuuming and mopping, carrying the bucket of water to clean with or water plants

27.  Shovel sand into the wheelbarrow, wheel the wheelbarrow to the spot, dump out sand and rake it flat and smooth

28.  Pull a friend or heavy items in a wagon

29.  Push a friend in a wheelbarrow

30.  Play wrestling, pushing game where two people face each other and hold hands and push (rules, no biting, no hitting, or scratching) when one says stop the game must end right away

31.  Open doors for people

32.  Fill milk crates with books at home or in class back and forth

33.  Chewy candy breaks, this eliminates chewing gum, there are lots of candy that takes longer to chew

34.  Squeeze toy sensory fidgets, ones that do not make noise as that is disturbing to classroom

35.  Chew on fish tank tubing

36.  Milkshake through a thin straw

37.  Help teacher move mats and hang them up, or mommy at home

38.  Sharpen pencils with a manual sharpener

39.  Cut out items for classroom displays

40.  Have student carry books in back pack from class to class or to the office (not too heavy)

41. Isometric exercise breaks 

42.  Suck apple sauce through a straw

43.  Tie therabrand around the front of a chair and have child kick into it

44.  Scrub surfaces with a brush (floor or snow off car) 

45.  Wood projects with sanding and hammering

46.  Wheelbarrow walks, tug of war, log roll races in a smaller group

47.  Work with the librarian to push the book cart at school through library and halls

48.  Chair push ups

49.  Carrying heavy cushions

50.  Falling into bean bag chair or crash mat

51.  Jumping and rolling games

52.  Pillow fights

53.  Slowly roll ball over the child and apply pressure

54.  Bounce on a hippity hop ball

55.  Sandwich games, between bean bag chairs, mattresses, cushions with light pressure on top layer

56.  Play catch with a heavy ball, bounce and roll the heavy ball

57.  Push weighted boxes across the carpet

58.  Animal walks, crab walk, bear walk, army crawl

59.  Playing in sandbox with damp heavier sand

60.  Have the child push chairs into table after meal or at school

61.  Push a cart filled with cans and have child unload cans to a bottom shelf on knees position

62.  Have the child color and draw a rainbow on a large piece of paper on the floor

63.  Have the child play with cars under the table, have them push the car in one hand and weight in the other

64.  Have child put things away, or pass out items in classroom and at home to family members

65.  After a bath squeeze the child and rub them with the towel

66.  Use heavy quilts at night or weighted blankets and tight flannel pj's

67.  Play row row row your boat sitting on the floor rowing against each other

68.  Rice play, koosh balls, water play, Jello play and putty

69.  Two adults swing the child in a sheet

70.  Push lunch cart and carry lunches around to the cafeteria

71.  Staple paper to bulletin boards

72.  Wash table, desks or counter tops

73.  If there is a garden project at school have them dig, or at home too

74.  Play with medicine balls (provided by gym teachers)

75.  Mini trampoline

76.  Run around track at school, at home or at the beach. 

77.  Swimming, have child dive for weighted sticks in the pool

78.  Dancing

79.  Gymnastics

80.  Sports activities involving running and jumping

81.  Bath the dog

82.  Wash the car

83.  Carry the laundry basket

84.  Sweep mop and wash the floors

85.  Stack chairs

86.  Jump or climb in inner tubes

87.  Bounce a big ball up a hill

88.  Fill up big toy trucks with heavy blocks, push with both hands and knock blocks down and over

89.  Fill up child's suitcase and have them push it or pull it around the house

90.  Fill the laundry basket with books and have them pull it around the house

91.  Go grocery shopping with the child's cart and have them tote it around the store

92.  Have the child change sheets on the bed and toss dirty linens down the stairs

93.  Have them push heavier ball across room (weighted large balls can be bought)

94.  Go camping with heavy blanket and 4 chairs and have them set up and take down the blanket

95.  Push square plastic nesting boxes with bean bags and small balls to and from the gym at school

96.  Have them sit in bean bag chairs for reading or doing homework. Changing positions to have consistent pressure input

97.  Push a wheeled therapy stool while someone sits on it

98.  Have kids pull themselves by a long jump rope while the other child is pulling themselves on a scooter board with there legs crossed and off of the floor

99.  Bounce a large ball

100.  Pinch, roll or pull putty, Play with balloon filled with flour

101.  Two children play tug of war with theraband (supervision only so they do not snap each other)

102.  Use bubble pack as part of a obstacle course, child can jump and run on it, They love the noise

103.  Tape a heavy phone book to the bottom of the child's seat, The teacher can have them move the seat to different areas of class for different activities or at home. Push against classroom and home walls

Here are some more helpful Sensory Processing Disorder Resources

DISCLAIMER: I am not an Occupational Therapist. I am an adult who has Sensory Processing Disorder, a sensory parent and a Grandma. The information on this website is not medical advice and does not replace the information that your child's therapists gives you. These are just ideas and information that I have learned myself over the years of being a parent and an adult living with SPD. If you are concerned for your child, please always seek medical attention through a family doctor, pediatrician or therapist. This website is for suggestions and informational purposes only. Each child is different and what works for one child may not for another because all children have different needs. Please always consult with a professional.

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