Sensory activities can be entertaining and beneficial for all preschoolers, especially children with autism. The most common autistic characteristics include difficulty communicating, comprehending people’s behaviors, and displaying flexibility. Autism can also cause hypersensitivity to sensory information, including sight, sound, touch, and smell, which can lead to sensory overload.
Engaging children in sensory activities is one way to help them acclimate to different kinds of sensory information. These activities can also improve social and interpersonal skills, such as teamwork, cooperation, and communication. Certain sensory activities for children with autism are designed to enhance motor skills and coordination. These activities can also be used to de-stress or calm an autistic child when they are agitated.
Sensory activities may be beneficial for children with autism in many ways. However, one of the biggest reasons you may want to try them with your child is that they are super fun and intriguing. Whether you are a parent, teacher, or a caretaker, trying out these activities will help you create a strong and loving bond with the child.
4 Sensory Activities for Children with Autism
It is important to understand that children with autism have a range of special needs and hence, they may display unusual behaviors. Therefore, it is essential to choose an activity based on their interests and preferences.
Keeping the child’s preferences and individual needs in mind, you can try a range of fun sensory activities to stimulate all five senses. It is best to go slow and let the child choose the pace of the activity, especially when introducing something new.
Switch to another activity if the child seems agitated or stressed out. Identify what works and which activities should be avoided. Remember, one of the prime goals of these activities is to have loads of fun and relax.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at some sensory activities for children with autism that you can try at home.
- Build a Sensory Bottle
It has been theorized that children with autism may be more sensitive to color differentiation than others. Building a sensory bottle can help the child develop a liking for colors that they previously disliked or avoided. It is also an excellent activity to help your kid learn to stay focused for longer.
All you need is a clear, old bottle, a few drops of food coloring, and some beads or buttons. Clean out the bottle and fill it with water. Add food color and mix well before adding the beads or buttons. You can also add some vegetable oil or glitter in the mix to create intriguing patterns in the water. Carefully seal the cap of the bottle using hot glue and VOILA… your kid has a new, eye-catching toy that they can take everywhere.
The best thing about making a sensory bottle is that there is no cap on creativity. You can choose the colors and styles of your choice. Plus, it’s really fun and simple to make. You can even let your kid make their own bottles. Remember, the goal of this activity is not to create the most beautiful sensory bottle, but to engage the child in a fun activity!
- Create a Sensory Collage
Children with autism may find certain textures and sensations uncomfortable or overwhelming. Creating a sensory collage using small portions of new materials can help them prepare for messier activities.
Over time, your child may enjoy being introduced to an array of textures. Like all other sensory activities for children with autism, it is important to take baby steps when creating a sensory collage with your child. Here is a list of items you can include in the collage.
- Aluminum foil
- Magazine cuttings
- A piece of old blanket
One fun idea is to use different materials to make a collage. For example, if you are making a collage of a cat, you can use aluminum foil for its eyes, sandpaper for the nose or tongue, a piece of old blanket for the body, some furry material or cotton for the tail, and so on. You can get as creative as you want! An activity like this will encourage your child to be more open to explore new textures.
- Make Your Own Musical Instruments
Too much noise or new sounds can lead to sensory overload in children with autism. However, creating and playing with homemade musical items can be an excellent sensory activity for your kid. It will help them acclimate to various sounds, including somewhat loud noises.
While making a musical item may sound like a complex task at first, it is actually really fun and simple. Here are some super easy ideas to help your child make their own musical instruments.
- Shakers: Use beans or rice to fill plastic bottles. Seal the lids using superglue, and your first musical item is ready! You can also decorate the bottle in any way you like to make it more eye-catching.
- Drums: Who needs real drums when you have wooden spoons and plastic tubs? Simply get some size-appropriate and lightweight wooden spoons for your child. Allow them to band them on the plastic containers and enjoy drumming.
- Chimes: Hang some shells or bottle tops from a thread to make chimes at home. You can use a wooden stick to move them and create sounds.
These are just some ideas for you to get started. You can get creative and make such sound-producing items in any way you like.
- Try Hand and Foot Painting
Hand and foot painting can be a lot of fun. However, keep in mind that this activity can get particularly messy, which is why it is best to perform it outdoors or in an area where you can work without worrying about creating a mess.
You will need large rolls of paper and some tray paints for this activity. Spread out the paint on the tray and let your kid have some colorful fun.
While it makes sense to expect abstract art out of this activity, you can also try making certain patterns. For example, you can draw a circle on a paper and ask the child to dip their feet in the paint and then walk around the circle to create footprint petals. They can also use their hands to make flowers, leaves, petals, or other designs.
The Bottom Line
Choosing the right sensory activity is essential. Make sure you consider your child’s likes and dislikes before picking a sensory activity for the day. It is also important to make sensory activities for children with autism as much fun as possible. This will keep them interested in the activity, allowing them to learn and play without seeing it as a chore.
These activities are also great to have some great bonding time with your kid. Remember, the goal here is to help your child relax and learn in a safe and happy environment. So, don’t urge them to do things in a particular style or at a certain speed. Instead, let them decide the pace of the sensory activity and allow them to choose how they want to perform it. Let them have fun and get creative!
Author’s Bio Vincent Taylor is a writer on a mission to spread awareness about special needs. She encourages counseling and therapy and enjoys writing about it, too. Her goal is to help children and adults with special needs by educating parents and caretakers.