If you’ve spent much time on Pinterest seeking a sensory activity (or ten thousand) for your child with autism, then I know you’ve seen the headlines: Best Sensory Activities for Kids with Autism or Ultimate Sensory Play Activities. But have you have ever asked yourself, How is this mess helping?
I don’t mind admitting that I did.
I read that Sensory Play is crucial.
It’s a huge deal.
But what exactly is Sensory Play?
How does it help?
And why is it so important?
I swear, I drive myself crazy with the why’s!
See, until somebody I trust, and that somebody usually had an MD or Ph.D. after their name, or I do extensive research and drive myself and my family members insane, I’m not going just to be ok taking a bunch of (fabulous) Pinterest users word for it.
So, Sensory Play.
Here’s the deal.
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 own discoveries using their natural curiosity and knowledge.
Now, sensory activities benefit ALL kids-but they are especially helpful to kids on the autism spectrum.
Many kids with autism have trouble dealing with everyday sensory stimulation. Stuff that you and I do not even notice like the noises coming from the coffeepot or bus stop, 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. As you can imagine, this causes a lot of anxiety and what looks to us like behavior “problems.”
Sensory play allows your child to experiment with different objects and textures on his own terms. They give us the opportunity to watch and learn more about our child in a relaxed setting so that we can be better prepared for that playdate next week and the first day of school.
When your child engages in sensory play, he is gaining valuable hands-on information about the world around him.
Worried about speech development? You can focus on language in a meaningful context while you play with your child! My son understands what rice is a lot better in “real life” than on a flash card.
Sensory play activities with other kids helps with social interaction by giving the opportunity to learn turn-taking and requesting. Parents are good too, but try to include other kids!
Sensory activities like making slime or sorting dyed beans stimulate all five senses and actually helps calm a child with autism.
Not so much.
If you’re a neat freak, you will be on edge the entire time.
Relax and get into it.
Play with your child!
Nothing’s going to happen that a good broom, mop or professional cleaning service can’t handle!
But seriously, 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.
The good news is that it’s also 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.
Chances are your child won’t want to play when you will. That’s just parenting a kid -that’s not autism.
I have two “typical” girls. They don’t ever want to do anything when I want them to.