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Sensory issues and strategies to help: Week 3 (taste and smell)

from Caroline Pringle, Families and Professionals Advisor for child enquiries

Welcome to week 3 where I will cover taste and smell.

Remember certain reactions/experiences can be seen as hypo - low sensitivity or hyper - high sensitivity, for some children these can overlap and can also change over time.

Gustatory (Taste)

Mealtimes – your child’s posture at the table, the noise around them can affect their eating rather than the taste/texture of the food.

Also consider the temperature of the food better if not too hot and cools to room temperature and the plate is not piled up with food. Transition to trying new textures and mixing foods gradually.

Low sensitivity


Likes spicy food

Craves gluten to chew on

Eats anything – wood/grass/soil

Will stuff mouth full of food


• Introduce new flavours/textures

• Latex free tubes (no gluten!)

• Chew Bracelets, chewy shapes

• Allow a child to use a sports bottle to sip water from during the day and/or drinking a thick milkshake through a straw.

High sensitivity


• Only eat ‘smooth’ food

• Problems with texture

• Flavours too strong


• Introduce new/different textures e.g. straws, toothbrush, drinks bottles

• different foods e.g. foods to chew, crunch or suck,

• Encourage activities that use mouth e.g. whistles, blowing bubbles, blow football

Olfactory (Smell)

Low sensitivity


• No sense of smell

• Can’t smell burning

• Don’t notice extreme odours

• Might lick something


• Use strong smells as rewards to keep them away from ‘bad’ strong smells! e.g. Vanilla

• Roll on aromatherapy oils

High sensitivity


• Smells are too overpowering - gets pleasure from these

• Sniffs everything

• Toileting problems

• Dislike of distinct smells e.g., Shampoo & soap


• Use unscented washing powders etc.

• Don’t wear perfume

Important to remember - some perfumes & smells can totally distract a child.


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