Friday, June 24, 2011

Sensory Play and Autism

Every parent with a child with autism or autism spectrum disorder has probably been told or heard about the benefits of sensory play at one time or another. I have to admit my child does become more engrossed in sensory play than any other form of recreation and this form of play has taught my child some self regulation and coping techniques we use from day to day. Despite this I still find myself asking WHY?? I recently came across a couple of helpful articles on the benefits of sensory play in autistic children. An article written in the The Age (an Australian publication) claims that sensory focused play can be used to develop a link with your autistic child which is a vital step in improving vital communication and social skills. The article goes as far as to claim this type of play can "help kids to become so functional that there is basically no difference between them and their typical peers." The website Autistic Recreation has published several helpful articles relating all to the benefits of sensory play.

Here are some of our favorite ideas for incorporating sensory play into your day with your autistic child:

Touch
Smell
  • Scratch and sniff stickers, scented books
  • Scented play dough
  • Go for a "smelling walk" - smell for flowers, herbs, fresh cut grass, the dampness after a fresh rain, etc.
  • Cook together- smell the spices and herbs, smell the cookies baking, smell the coffee brewing, which smells do they take delight in?? Which smells make them turn up their nose??
Sound
  • Make music together. Get out the musical instruments and start your own band.
  • Go on a Sound Safari.
Sight
  • Create sensory bottles. Child Care Lounge has tons of inspirational ideas to create your own.
  • Play with fiber optic wands.
  • Experiment with binoculars, magnifying glasses, mirrors and kaleidoscopes.
For more information on sensory play I highly recommend the book Early Intervention Games by Barbara Sher which contains lots of helpful tips for parents as well as dozens of games and activities to try with your child at home.

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