7 Rockin’ Sensory Play Activities for Kids on the Spectrum
Play is one of the easiest ways for a child to learn about their surroundings and develop fundamental life skills. Sensory play is any activity that stimulates a child’s senses such as touch, sound, taste, sight, and smell. Allowing your child the opportunity to freely explore with sensory activities helps to facilitate understanding and creativity.
Sensory play can be helpful in regulating and even preventing meltdowns for children with autism or sensory processing disorder. For example, allowing children to independently explore sensory activities can teach them how to calm themselves and self-regulate their emotions. So not only are they getting much needed sensory-input that will help in reducing meltdowns from over stimulation, but they are teaching themselves how to combat these meltdowns.
Planning Your Sensory Play Area
Keep It Simple:
It’s important to keep in mind that when planning an area to have a sensory table or a sensory room, you’ll want to make sure the main focus is on the sensory activity. The rest of the room should be relatively mundane or separated from other play areas. This will help in preventing overstimulation and result in children better focusing on the task or craft at hand.
Set Guidelines But Don’t Guide:
Sensory play is about allowing children to explore the world how they want to explore it. So aside from setting preliminary guidelines for safety measures, we don’t recommend overly guiding a child in how they choose to interact with the sensory objects.
Keep In Mind Sensitivities:
Make your sensory place a place where all kids can play. We recommend never using fragrances that could irritate skins or airways, and to check with parents about allergies beforehand. As far as using food for sensory-play goes, we recommend staying away. You never want to expose children to food allergens, and you never know if there are any food insecure kids around. For these reasons, we find avoiding food-related play activities to be best.
Scope Out Teaching Supply Stores:
A lot of the great stuff we recommend below can be found at teaching supply stores (or at least created from items there). Of course, some can also be found on Amazon as well. The good news is that as sensory play gets more popular, so does the accessibility of sensory items.
Here are some of our favorite sensory-play activities:
1. Shaving Cream & Paint:
Kids love playing with shaving cream, and it can be a relatively inexpensive sensory item. Make sure to get non-scented shaving cream, and then either spray some in a container for your kids to play with or on a nice large table top. Want to step up the pizzazz a bit? Add a couple drops of tempera paint and watch as kids get to interact directly with the rainbow.