Kentucky Derby Run For The Noses

Have you ever considered the sensory benefits presented by the Kentucky Derby? A well-rounded sensory diet has been touted as one of the great hallmarks to proper childhood development and education. With minimal effort and even less cost, you can create a fun-filled, sensory balanced day for you and your kiddo.

Whether your child is typical in development on the autism spectrum or somewhere in between, a well rounded sensory diet is crucial to proper development. So, with no further ado, let’s delve into how we can turn this typically adult day into a fantastic childhood memory.

If your child doesn’t already have those plastic horses that have been around for what seems like hundreds of years, you can pick some up at your local Dollar Tree or other discount store. Using paint, markers, stickers or whatever else is at your disposal decorate the horses so they are different and therefore, visually stimulating. Even getting horses in different colors and sizes makes an impact to the eye.

The tactile sense is enhanced by not only holding and galloping the horses around the track but in making the track itself. Depending on the preferences and needs of your child you have two options for creating the racetrack. You can spread sand or freshly dug-up dirt in a plastic container to create the track. But if that isn’t a preferable option you can create a turf track by using rocks or other markers to create an oval track in the grass. Just make sure the track is big enough to accommodate the number of expected children racing horses, be that two or twenty.

Everyone knows that the Kentucky Derby and mint juleps are synonymous. But did you know that mint is believed to stimulate the brain? For your child’s Derby Day allow him/her to nibble on raw mint or suck on peppermint candy. For an additional health boost try drinking water infused with lemon. Whether you use the mint and lemon together or separately it is sure to rev up your child’s taste buds.

Auditory input can be achieved musically or by isolated sound. For the former try listening to or singing My Old Kentucky Home prior to the start of your race. You can find it, as well as other auditory gems, such as the bugle Call to Post, the sound of releasing the horses from the gate and the calling of an actual horse race, by performing a simple Google search.

Of course, no Derby would be complete without a cheering crowd. The app Instant Applause is fun, free and easy. Once you’ve downloaded the app and opened it, you simply tap the large orange circle to hear the crowd’s cheering and applause. The beauty of this app is that the more and faster you hit the button the louder and more ongoing the cheers. Therefore, you can simulate real racing by increasing the number of times you press the button as the horses draw closer to the finish line.


The winner in your derby doesn’t need a blanket of roses to stimulate the sense of smell, a single rose will do the trick. The scent of roses has been known to enhance a feeling of well-being and calmness. This is especially true in individuals who have ADD/ADHD, sensory processing disorder or are on the autism spectrum.

Now that you know all the information let your child have some fun on this typically adult day. Allow him/her to take his/her decorated horse around the homemade track while sipping a mint and lemon drink to the sounds of a cheering crowd. Then let the calming aroma of roses fill the air as all the racers claim their spot in a fun-filled, sensory satisfying day.

And when the fastest two minutes in sports is over you can bask in the knowledge that not only did you have fun with your friends but you fed the ever voracious sensory appetite of your developing child. Happy Derby Day, everyone!



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