Sensory Activities for Children with Autism
Sensory toys or games are great ways to incorporate developmental communication skills with your child. While you and your child enjoy playing together, it is an excellent time for you to turn the fun interaction into a communication opportunity. This article suggests 5 sensory activities for children with autism. It includes practical tips on incorporating developmental and communications skills while playing with your child according to ESDM and PRT. We unpacked evidence-based interventions into practical parenting skills.
- Kinetic Sand – Sensory Activity:
Ever since the kinetic sand came into our lives, it has not stopped being the best toy for our kids to play with! My kids love it! They love how it feels between their hands and fingers, the shapes it creates, and the way they can “disassemble” and destroy it. Aside from the great fun, my kids also learn essential and varied skills during the game with kinetic sand. To give you some ideas, we have selected some skills from the ESDM’s curriculum, which can be combined while playing with kinetic sand.
Understanding and Responsiveness:
What is the skill? Response to calling by name
How? During a game with kinetic sand, collect a handful of sand in your hands. Wait for the moment when your child is not entirely immersed in the game, call his name and add “Look!” as soon as your child looks up or turns in your direction, release the grip from above so that a handful of sand falls like rain. This pause will create a situation where your child’s attention span into strength because it results from something enjoyable! If your child does not respond at first, wait, try to get a little closer to them, use a playful voice to get their attention, and try again.
What is the skill? Imitates 8-10 actions with objects
How? You can teach your child to mimic the actions you take with the kinetic sand. In general, it is best to start with the imitation of your children’s activities when teaching imitation. After a while, you can suggest your ideas. For example, make holes with a stick on a tight surface of the kinetic sand, and encourage your child to do as you do. If your child has difficulty imitating at first, you can help them (click here for a post that explains how to teach imitation).
What is the skill? Uses intentional voice production in a media context (e.g., request). Producing sounds is a relatively initial skill in the field of language expression, but you can also choose more advanced skills (vocabulary expansion, verbs, etc.) for older children.
How? There are many ways you can create opportunities for communication while playing with the kinetic sand. Try to find a moment when your child needs you for something fun to happen (needs help opening the sandbox, needs the stick to make holes, wants you to cover their hands with sand, etc.) Once that happens – wait! Do not do this immediately. Try to demonstrate to your child the appropriate word at that moment, for example: “Open” Then, no matter what your child says (even if it is just: “Ah,” but they tried to use communication). Do the action they are asking for right away. It is essential to reward your child for their try, even if it is far from the word you wanted them to say. Remember that the main goal is for your child to learn that communication is fun and valuable.
2. Dream Ride Blanket:
Sometimes, this winter evening, when everybody is in the house and needs some meltdown time, I would use one of these IKEA soft blankets and start a train where your sweetheart child sits or lies on the blanket, and you run around the house pulling them in for a dream ride blanket. It’s a win-win situation, you are working on your quadriceps, and they are enjoying the ride. So now, when everyone enjoys the fun ride, it’s time for your child to communicate.
How? Naturally, stop pulling the blanket, then you create momentum for your child to communicate. There are a few options for you to work on communication methods with your child. If you are working on “Eye contact,” bend over and enter his visual field. Once you have even a fragment of eye contact, start enthusiastically pulling the blanket and returning to the dream ride. If you are working on first words, model the word “Pull” or “Ride” after you stop, and once your child vocalizes it, pull the blanket enthusiastically. If you are working on a full sentence model, try to use the complete sentence “pull the blanket”. Once your child says the sentence or some words (depending on their development), pull the blanket and continue the ride.
Your child should enjoy communication and interaction with you. It should be fun and rewarding once they do that. We want to encourage your child to look at us, speak, and understand that communication is fun and essential for their growth.
Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed
Many children enjoy jumping on the sofa or bed. While they jump- we hold their waists so the jump will be higher and much more fun.
It is a classic Shared Control activity- using the Play&Pause technique
Motivation? They want to bounce.
Shared Control? Easily, stop bouncing and wait for communication.
How can we promote the language? When a child is just starting to speak, say: “hop, pop. hop,” and then we will wait for them to make a sound; for children who already use language, you can give a model “jump,” “higher,” “up to the sky,” or ask: “alone or with mom/dad?
4. Shaving Cream
Playing with shaving cream is one of the favorite activities of many children, whether it is in the bathroom or on a small children’s table. Shaping it into shapes, smearing it on the walls, or even cleaning it is attractive.
To encourage your child to communicate, keep the cream container nearby, and encourage them to ask for it.
You can ask if they want to put “a little or a lot,” “on the hand or at the wall,” “on their hand or yours.”
If your kid enjoys smearing the cream, you can put it on the wall at a height, then let them say “Smear!” and pick them up.