As human beings, we experience our world through our senses. We use taste to appreciate an incredible meal, touch to experiences the joy of petting a dog or cat, we may take in the sights and sounds of theater, or a movie….and we stop to smell the roses!
For children, sensory play and sensory stimulation are important for development. It is even more important for children with Autism because motor skill development can be more challenging for children on the spectrum.
In this blog, we are going to go in-depth about why sensory play is so important for children who have Autism and what parents can do to ensure a sensory-rich environment for their kids that will help them improve social skills, process information, and aid in their cognitive development.
Children with autism can experience difficulties with regulating their emotions, have “big” emotions in situations that most of us would consider a “small” problem, and can get worked up at times. In instances where melt-downs may occur, sensory tools can help calm them down and re-direct their focus to the sensory experience in front of them.
It can be challenging to know precisely when a melt-down or episode is on the rise as well because children with Autism do not always have the same reaction to emotional disturbances or sensory overload.
In some circumstances, the child may have a temper tantrum, but in other cases, they may become removed and refuse to engage or display forms of self-stimulation, such as rocking back and forth, self-talk, etc.
No matter what the case may be, sensory tools can play a helpful role in the healthy management of emotions for children with ASD. There are lots of options for parents who want to seek out sensory tools and toys for their children that are delivered right to their door each month!
Developing Social Skills
While engaging in sensory play, children with ASD are also learning to plan, negotiate, and share. Proper development of social skills for children is a vitally important part of growing and will lead to health and better relationships in adulthood.
Often, children with Autism need guidance in learning how to act in social situations. Certain sensory toys can encourage more social interaction and help children with Autism to develop relationships through shared sensory experiences that are highly engaging.
Cognitive skills allow children to make sense of their world. Memorizing information, paying attention to detail, and regulation of thoughts and behavior. While children with ASD often have advanced cognitive skills pertaining to attention to detail and factual information, they often have difficulties with the regulations of thoughts and behavior, or higher level executive functioning skills.
You can give your child with ASD sensory toys that provide hands-on stimulation to create pathways in the brain that help build overall brain development. Check out this list for some great options that your child will love.
Problem Solving Skills
Children and adults alike come up against situations that require problem-solving skills on a daily basis. Every parent wants their child with ASD to be able to use problem-solving to be self-sufficient and to live well.
Toys such as puzzles are a great option for improving problem-solving skills in children with autism. Sensory toys help a child learn about their senses in a fun way and can teach them how to manage their senses and problem solve difficult situations such as overstimulation or emotional dysregulation. Light-spinners, wind up toys and ooze tubes are fun, engaging, and can be added to your child’s sensory toolbox to help them focus, calm down, and relax.
When children play, they tend to run, jump, balance, and move their bodies in all sorts of ways. All of those actions require motor skills. Motor skills are separated into two categories which are listed below:
- FINE MOTOR SKILLS: Fine motor skills include activities such as buttoning up a coat, holding a pencil, writing, cutting, and playing with legos. Sensory toys that stimulate and promote the development of fine motor skills are very beneficial for children with Autism, as challenges in this area of development can be seen in people with ASD.
- GROSS MOTOR SKILLS: Gross motor skills include activities such as walking, running, throwing, lifting, and kicking. The latest research shows that about 87% of people with autism have difficulties with gross motor skill development, so finding engaging and creative ways to stimulate and encourage gross motor skill development is crucial.
Why Is Sensory Play So Important?
Every parent wants their child to be healthy, happy, successful, and social. Children with Autism deserve to have the same quality of life as every other child. They need emotional, social, cognitive, and motor skills for success in adulthood and can have a better chance at achieving this by getting the proper stimulation and development in childhood.
Children LOVE to play! What better way to give kids with ASD a jump start to healthy development through sensory play that will support them.
The Solution? DeveloPLAY!
DeveloPLAY was created by Lindsey Wood, an occupational therapist with a life long goal to support and nurture the healthy development of children with Autism.
Lindsey created the DeveloPLAY Box, which is a simple and convenient monthly service that delivers hand-picked, therapeutic sensory motor toys for your child right to your door!
Each month, you will receive a box with fun and stimulating new toys that will aid with self-regulation and motor skills, and the best part is that it is super easy to get started!
Signing up takes LESS than one minute, and before you know it, your box will be curated with tools and toys and shipped!