Children with autism have varying needs and display a range of different interests so activities should always be targeted according to their individual support strategies.
The benefits of sensory activities for children with autism
Engaging children with autism in sensory activities is beneficial in several ways, as it can help with:
- Stimulating the brain, creating neural pathways and improving sensory processing systems
- Improving social skills such as communication and cooperation
- Improving coordination, as well as fine/gross motor skills
- Calming children down when they are agitated
You can create fun-filled and engaging activities with a little effort from your side:
- Create sensory trays! Some children have an aversion to certain textures and smells, but the beauty of a sensory tray is that it can be cretaed using such a wide array of materials to suit any child! e.g. rice, cooked spagetti, shaving foam, buttons and beads ( possible choking hazard depending on child ) , dirt and sand, water and water beads, straws, feathers, porridge oats.
2. Make an obstacle course:
This can be as simple or as challenging as you wish, using items you have at home. e.g. jumo back and over sweeping bursh five times, walk in a straight line (masking tape) do five wall sits, walk like a crab, wiggle like a worm, try walk with a book balancing on your head!
3. Make a sensory bottle- there are thousands of suggestions on pinterest. A simple one is a lava lamp, just add oil, food colouing , and a vitamin c fizzy tablet!
4. Go on a Nature Trail: look for a selection of different flowers, leaves etc when out for a walk. Bring them home and encourage your child to glue them to a page or use them for an art activity- resulting in a lovely sensory experience!
5. Shredded Crepe Paper Flowers: This is a creative activity that involves ripping and shredding of paper to create flowers. Some children will love the sensory touch of handling paper and playing with shapes and colors.
6. Finding Toys: Here is another activity that helps improve your child’s sensory skills by touching and feeling various things.
- Take a large plastic tub and fill with rice or beads.
- Hide as many toys as you can inside the box.
- Now ask your little one to put her hand into the box and take out the toy by feeling each one.
7. Balloon activites: I have yet to meet a child who hasn’t loved balloons! The activity could be as simple as trying to keep the balloon in the air, a balloon walk, or just holding it and exploring its texture, or trying balloon painting. Here is a link to 28 ways to play with a balloon! https://handsonaswegrow.com/28-ways-to-play-with-balloons/ ( Remember they are still a choking hazard)
8. Make jelly! Some children might want to eat it , others won’t. You could hide mini figures in it, freeze it and your child can help get them out once it has set!
9. Scented Play Dough: This is a fun one for the children to be involved in making, and only requires a cup of salt, a cup of water and 2 cups of flour!
10. Save all your bottle caps and lids- and when you have a nice selection built up, encourage your child to sort them by colour or size.