Sensory activities engage the body and mind, helping children and adults with autism to work off stress and manage their emotions. The activities help participants filter different sensory inputs and choose where to focus. Want to give it a try? Check out these fun activities!
1. Sensory Bin
Stimulate the senses of touch and sight with a sensory bin. To make a bin, fill a container with a filler material, such as rice, sand, or shaving cream. Then add in small objects in varying shapes, textures, and colors. Children can dig through the bins with their hands or tongs to work on fine motor skills, color identification, and object identification.
2. Calm-Down Jar
Calm-down jars—clear containers filled with glitter or confetti-saturated water—provide a calming sensory experience for children or adults who are over-stimulated and overwhelmed. The gentle movement of the glitter in the water has a soothing effect, and the sparkle offers an external focal point. The jars are portable and easy to pop in a purse or diaper bag, so you can keep them on hand for meltdowns in public places.
3. Vinegar Experiment
Put a colorful twist on the classic vinegar and baking soda experiment by adding colorful gelatin to the mix. To run a Jello and vinegar experiment, mix powdered Jello with baking soda in a bowl. Pour in vinegar to create an explosion of foam and color that engages all five senses.
4. Tactile Experiments
Gather a collection of items with different surface textures, such as sandpaper and satin. If they’re willing, blindfold the players to heighten the tactile experience. Ask them to describe the sensation of each object. Take the experiments to the next level by introducing warm and cool objects into the mix.
5. Scented Paint
Combine the senses of sight and smell with scented paint. Make your own paint by blending clear glue, food coloring and aromatherapy oils; add glitter for extra impact. Hand out small paintbrushes and paper, and encourage participants to make imaginative pictures.
6. Popping Bubble Wrap
Popping bubble wrap is a popular sensory activity for people of all ages, from small children to elderly adults. The pressure on the bubbles engages the sense of touch, and each bubble makes a satisfying sound when it pops. Participants can use their hands and feet to try out different sensations.
7. Hot Cocoa Aromas
Make a batch of hot cocoa, and pour each person a cup. Ask participants to smell the cocoa and identify the ingredients. Sprinkle in different additions, such as cinnamon or marshmallows, and repeat the smell test. Encourage participants to describe the different aromas in detail.
8. Building Blocks
Encourage children to experiment with creative play using building blocks or Legos. Provide a pile of blocks, and ask the participant to build a structure. Then start fresh and request a completely different structure. This process encourages creative thinking and teaches players to respond to new situations.
Do you have other ideas for autism-friendly activities that have worked for your family? Share them in the comments to help other families!
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