Many children with autism are also diagnosed with Sensory Integration Disorder. This disorder is characterized by the brains inability to integrate information received from the body’s five senses making it difficult for the person with Sensory Integration Disorder to react and respond appropriately to their environment. Sensory Integration Specialists work with children affected by this disorder to integrate their senses with a variety of activities and equipment.
You don’t have to be a specialist though to provide fun sensory activities for your autistic child in your own home.
Therapy only lasts an hour or so and children with this disorder need help integrating their senses all throughout the day and night.
As a parent of a child who is autistic and has Sensory Integration Disorder I have found many easy and fun activities to provide my child with the sensory experiences he needs. Every child of course is different and needs different experiences but here are three I have used with my son.
Three Fun and Easy Sensory Activities
1. Heavy Work Activity
This activity is good for children who have a hard time regulating their arousal level. They are the children who you will see most often crashing into things and jumping off of things. One of my sons favorite heavy work activities is Kid Sandwich. To play this game you need two large floor pillows and one kid.
Place one pillow on the floor and then have your child lie on top of the pillow. Place the other pillow on top of your child and apply gentle squishing pressure. Make sure no part of your child’s face is covered and that you do not apply to much pressure. Your child may initially be resistant to this activity but as time goes by you will be surprised to find that they are asking for you to make a “kid” sandwich.
2. Vestibular Activity
Some children are fearful of movement and some crave it. In either case it is important that children move and learn to control their bodies.One of the important things to know about Vestibular movement is that it can slow you down or get you moving. A simple exercise all available at any large retailer or Sporting Goods store can provide wonderful vestibular input for the child with sensory processing disorder. One of my sons favorite ways to use his excesses ball is to lie chest down on his ball with his legs out. I then slowly push him back and forth by holding his legs and moving them forward and backward.
3. Tactile Activity
One of the easiest activities to provide tactile experiences is through sand and water play. Provide a large plastic container with low sides and fill with either play sand which can be purchased at your local hardware store or water. You can provide a variety of different containers for the child to experiment with or simply allow him or her to explore the sensation of putting their hands in the sand or water. You could also fill a small wading pool with sand or water and allow your child to get in and use their whole body to explore the sensations that sand or water create.
There are many books on Sensory Integration activities that can help you chose activities that your child either needs or would enjoy. Two of my favorites are by Carol Kranowitz. The first is called The Out Of Sync Child and the second is called The Out Of Sync Child Has Fun. Not only will your child benefit from these activities but you will have fun right along with your child.