Today I’m sharing 40 awesome activities to engage your toddler with autism and why they’re so important. I know autism is confusing. I understand that a bunch of medical jargon means nothing when you’ve got an autistic two-year-old that doesn’t talk and smears his poop all over your walls. I know you’re not here for me to explain the autism epidemic or the signs and symptoms of autism spectrum disorder.
You’re here because someone you love has autism and you’re looking for activities to help you interact and entertain.
You want into his world, you want eye contact, you want words.
Maybe that person is your child, and you’re still coming to grips with the autism diagnosis, and you don’t know where to start, but you know you’ve got to do something.
Either way, I can help. I can tell you where to start. And it’s not about definitions or statistics or big words you need to google to understand.
It’s sensory play, and I’ll break it down for you.
Sensory Play is any activity that engages your child’s senses: touch, smell, taste, movement, balance, sight, and hearing.
It allows children to make their discoveries using their natural curiosity and knowledge.
Now, sensory activities benefit ALL kids-but they are especially helpful to kids on the autism spectrum.
You see, kids with autism have trouble dealing with everyday sensory stimulation.
Stuff that you and I may not even notice like the noises coming from the coffeepot, dishwasher or dryer.
The touch of a person’s hand or hug, the texture of a clothing tag or material, or the way a particular food feels in their mouths can cause them to go into sensory overload.
As you can imagine, this causes a lot of anxiety in our children, and it translates to what looks like behavior “problems.” Sometimes, it may lead to meltdowns.
Sensory play allows your child with autism to experiment with different objects and textures on his own terms. Sensory Play activities give us the opportunity to watch and learn more about our autistic children in a relaxed setting so that we can be better prepared for that playdate next week or the first day of school or life experiences in general.
When your child engages in sensory play activities, he is gaining valuable hands-on information about the world around him. Sensory Play helps your autistic child with so much more than just touch, feel, and sound anxieties. Here are five skills kids with autism can learn from sensory play activities.
5 Skills Autistic Kids Learn from Sensory Play
Social Skills: Kids learn to share, plan, and negotiate
Fine Motor Skills: Developing when they pick up small objects
Gross Motor Skills: When they have to jump or run or squat during an activity
Pretend Play: When your child uses objects during play
Self Control Skills: These are picked up when your child learns and respects the rules during play
Speech Delay? You can focus on language development while you play with your child by describing every step you take. Point out the colors of the chickpeas! Count them. Talk about their texture. There are so many opportunities here! And what’s great about this type of play is that your child will get to learn new words in what therapists call a meaningful context.
Let me break that down for you. My son understands what rice is a lot better in “real life” than on a flash card.
Now, if you read only one thing here let it be this:
You must play with your child for Sensory Play to “work.”
You’ve gotta get in there and get your hands dirty!
Look at this as an invitation to get inside your child’s world.
Do you understand how valuable that is? To be able to see things as he does?
Well, let me tell ya, it’s priceless.
And Sensory Play activities are pretty cheap!
I bet you’ve got most of the makings for an excellent Sensory Bin or table at home already. If you don’t, a quick trip to the dollar store will handle it!
You’ll need a storage tub, a massive shower curtain liner to use as a drop cloth and some sorting tools.
Some people use their measuring cups from the kitchen, and that’s fine!
I like these because they are made for kid’s little hands!
Now, get down on the floor and get ready to play!
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This list of 40 Sensory Activities for Toddlers with Autism is perfect for at home or in a preschool setting. These sensory activities for kids with autism and special needs will help them calm down, stimulate their senses, and develop their social, language, and fine and gross motor skills.