BrainWorks App – A Sensory Diet Tool

BrainWorks app (11.99) for iPad and iPhone was developed by Occupational Therapist, Gwen Wild of! to provide sensory diets menus for children and teens. Customizable, this app can manage an unlimited number of users and provide in app activity choices as well as customized sensory diet activities using photos from your iPad/ iPod photo library.

Here is a helpful video that provides a great overview of the app and settings:

More about how the BrainWorks app is set up:

1. Enter user(s) – an unlimited number. Once a user is entered you have the option of using a timer or not.

2. Choose the locations that you will be using the activities.

3. The next step for the user is to choose how they feel. Their feelings will determine what activity choices will be available to them, either calming activities, alerting activities or just right activities.

4. When the user has chosen their feeling a list of activities is presented. The user then chooses one of the images they will use. If using the timer was chosen and time was set in the settings menu the time will start lapsing (see time remaining on right picture).

5. If a needed activity is not in the image list, pictures can be added from your photo library. If you do not have the equipment the stock activity can be removed from the list.

BrainWorks app provides a well thought out tool providing supports using a “How does your engine run?” type of problem solving to individuals who need sensory diet activities to help with self-regulation. It provides a familiar framework of sensory diet and many activities with graphics that are explicit visually to the user. I like their terminology of defining user feelings, Just Right, Slow and Sluggish, Fast and Stressed and Fast and Hyper along with the visuals they provide to the user. Customizing the app by adding users and your own activities makes it a flexible tool for therapists and parents and reinforces the concepts and activities that can support self-regulation for the user. Help menus are provided in the app as well as on the SensationalBrain website for using and setting up the app.

A few things I would like to see modified in the app include:

1.  Being able to add in activities rather than removing activities from the activity listing for the user.  There were more than 75 choices of calming activities listed to choose from which is good, however that list might be overwhelming to a student and removing that many is rather tedious. We also provide fewer choices to students for calming, or alerting activities for students and provide them with explicit instructions for some activities such as belly breathing (do 2 minutes of breathing) or theraband (do 10 repetitions x 2) which are often needed to structure the sensory diet activity appropriately during their break time.

2. It would also be great if text or audio could be customized in the user items selected to provide more specific instruction for the user to be effective.

3. Also, it would be great if the app could collect time stamps and data of the users feeling selection  – Just Right, Slow or Sluggish, Fast and Stressed or Fast and Hyper especially at school to help determine some of the antecedents of their dysregulation to help with determining time of breaks or environments that may need some modification. Not sure that can be done, but sure would be great data.

Overall this is a great app with great application for creating sensory diets for parents, teachers and therapists. Sensational Brain website also provides some great information on sensory processing and sensory diet information along with checklists and handouts. They also offer different memberships that provides access to their materials for creating sensory diet activities.

Kudos to  Sensational Brain for their work, providing one of the first sensory diet apps on the market that I am aware of.

Will this app be included your OT mTool Kit?


About Carol Leynse Harpold, MS, OTR/L, SCLV, ATP, CATIS

OTR/L with more than 35 years experience in pediatrics, school based therapy and adult rehabilitation. Masters of Science in Adaptive Education/Assistive Technology with 20 years experience in AT in education of elementary, middle school, secondary, post secondary students and work environments for adult clients. A RESNA Assistive Technology Practitioner with ACVREP CATIS credentials, AOTA Specialty Certification in Low Vision, USC Davis Executive Certificate in Home Modifications, servicing adults and students with disabilities in employment, education, and home environments. A 2020 graduate of the University of Alabama Birmingham Low Vision Certification Program.
This entry was posted in App Reviews, Apps for OT's, Apps for Special Needs, Autism, iPad, iPhone, iPod, Occupational Therapy, School Based Interventions, Self-regulation, Sensory Apps, Sensory Apps for ASD and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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