Sensory play ideas for children with autism
- by Shruti Gokarn
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Autism is a developmental spectrum disorder which means that the severity of the symptoms varies from individual to individual on a range. This spectrum disorder is characterised by various symptoms such as lack of eye contact, difficulty in communicating verbally, repetitive behaviours, poor reasoning and planning skills, weak motor skills and sensory faculties.
An important part of the education of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is to include activities which give scope for their sensorial development. Sensory play helps all children learn, but for children on the autism spectrum, it can be a life changer. This helps fortify neural connections in the brain as well as helps them make sense of the world around them.
Here are a list of activities that you must consider undertaking for children with ASD:
Use a percussion instrument
Children with ASD find it difficult to maintain eye contact. To get them to get you to meet your eye, use a percussion instrument with ’ghungroos’ to attract their attention. Once you have their attention, get them to imitate you, beginning with one beat of the percussion and increasing the range gradually.
Use bold flashcards
Another excellent way to attract their attention is to make bold flashcards with bright colours. Colours draw the eye towards the picture and the vocabulary or sounds that go with the picture can be reinforced with these flash cards.
Look for easily available materials at home to devise an activity. Make a mixture of cornstarch and water and allow them to dip their hands in it and play with it as they like. Add one more dimension to it by adding food colour to the mixture. If you want to vary the consistency give them half kneaded dough, making it as dense or thin as you want. However messy this gets, it comes with definite benefits of providing your child with tactile stimulus.
Arrange colourful papers
Collect a stack of colourful papers or even simple newspapers and show your child how to arrange them in a line. This should be followed by them arranging them as shown. After that ask them to stack them up again in reverse order. This develops spatial reasoning and motor skills.
Make palm prints
Cover the floor with a huge sheet of plain paper or a cloth. Allow them to dip their hands and feet in skin friendly paint and walk over the paper or to make palm and foot prints over it. This sort of free play is one of the best ways to teach them to grapple with their worlds.
Create a rain stick
Using a bamboo or the paper roll around which foil is wrapped, make a rain stick. It is easy enough to make and you can make it as colourful as you like. The sound of the rain stick will not only attract your child’s attention but will also be very soothing. Letting your child rotate it will also exercise their motor skills.
Arrange medium sized edibles of different colours and shapes in a plate. Then you can ask the child to sort them according to shape or colour or size but taking only variable at a time. For example, you could use square and round biscuits to teach them these two shapes.
Depending upon the degree of severity various activities can be designed and tweaked to serve the purpose. Whatever the activity patience and love are the most important ingredients and with these you will see your tiny tot making definitive progress.