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Therapeutic Activities for Autistic Children, Part 1: Sensory

Therapeutic Activities for Autistic Children, Part 1: Sensory

Monday, April 03, 2023

April is Autism Awareness Month.

Autism affects approximately 1 in 59 students in the United States. Because of this, learning how to work with students with autism is incredibly important. Teaching communication skills, as well as learning strategies, to students with special needs are critical. By bridging the gap with therapeutic activities, we can ensure that these children can thrive in the classroom and beyond.

In this blog, we will explore some of the most effective therapeutic activities for children with autism, that work for all ages!

Therapeutic Activities for Children with Autism

1. Pool Noodle Games

There is nothing better than pool noodles. These affordable pieces of equipment are not only simple but can be used for year-round fun. We recommend that you stock up on these as they make incredible manipulatives for plenty of activities, including:

  • Using them as building blocks
  • Create unique shapes, such as boats and funky straws.
  • Make characters using pipe cleaners, straws, and googly eyes
  • Cut them vertically to create slides for water
  • Build obstacle courses out of pool noodles
  • Light sabers… say no more!

2. Sensory Activities Full of Fun

Children with autism are often hyper aware of what is going on around them, especially when it comes to their senses. One way to accommodate students is to include activities involving sensory stimulation. This allows children with autism to stay grounded and focused. 

More often than not, people find themselves using the same materials for sensory bins. Rice, grains, and cereal are typical, but there are other options. For example, aquarium gravel not only feels cool but comes in awesome colors. 

One such activity that is super tactile is sorting with multi-colored manipulatives such as snacks or blocks. This is a great way to engage during math. 

To begin, give your class something that is easy to sort. You can focus on a variety of different things, such as color, texture, shapes, or sizes. Once you have handed them out, ask them to sort based on a set characteristic, then use these manipulatives to teach basic math skills.

Another great activity is to create a full-fledged sensory bin. Sensory bins are great for all students, not just ones with special needs. These bins are incredibly engaging and allow children to explore while using all of their senses.

These hands-on learning experiences are typically built in containers such as a Rubbermaid box. Essentially you just want something that is big enough for students to be able to dig around and explore without filler materials falling out, creating a mess. Some items that you can fill your sensory bin with include:

  • Feathers
  • Moon dough
  • Tissue Paper
  • Ribbon
  • Buttons and beads
  • Dirt
  • Sand
  • Aquarium gravel

3. Sensory Safe Spaces

Sometimes things can be a bit much for children, and creating a safe space for them where they can relax is a great way to help when they need a break. Sensory spaces have a calming effect, giving children having a behavior issue a place to work out their issues on their own, without the pressure of classmates.  Often, taking a child out of a stressful situation and putting them in a relaxing environment will yield better results than punishing them.

When creating a sensory time-out area for autistic children, it is important to include items that stimulate their senses in a positive and controlled way. Soft blankets, weighted vests, and stuffed animals can provide tactile input and a sense of comfort. 

Calming music or white noise machines can help regulate auditory input. Visual sensory items like lava lamps, bubble tubes, and fiber optic lights can create a calming atmosphere.

Additionally, fidget toys such as stress balls, textured balls, or squishy toys can provide proprioceptive and tactile input, allowing children to release nervous energy and calm down. 

4. Build an Obstacle Course

Obstacle courses are fun for all children. However, when working with kids that are on the spectrum, this can be a way to help with problem-solving and motor skills. When designing an obstacle course, it is important to consider the unique needs and preferences of the individual. 

Start by selecting a variety of materials that provide different sensory inputs, such as balance beams, tunnels, and swings. Trampolines and sensory mats also make for fun. It is important to consider the social aspect, which can promote social skills such as turn-taking and communication. Adding on interactive elements such as a scavenger hunt can also encourage teamwork and socialization.

5. Art and Music Therapy

Both music therapy and art therapy are therapeutic activities that can help autistic children express themselves and improve their social and emotional skills. Music therapy utilizes music to promote emotional expression, socialization, and communication.

Autistic children can benefit from activities like singing, playing instruments and composing music to enhance their communication and social skills while also reducing stress and anxiety. Similarly, art therapy uses art as a tool for self-expression and emotional regulation.

Autistic children can communicate their feelings and emotions through activities like drawing, painting, and collage-making, which can help them express themselves in a nonverbal way. Both music and art therapy can provide effective therapeutic options for autistic children.

Help Your Child Thrive with Ignite Achievement Academy 

There are plenty of unique ways to incorporate sensory activities into your child's daily life. These sensory therapeutic activities can help improve your child's behavior, social skills, and motor function. 

If you are looking for a school that actively incorporates activities for autistic children into their day to day, look no further than Ignite Achievement Academy. We will provide your child with a highly personalized learning experience utilizing the school's team of dedicated teachers, support staff, and administrators. 

Your child will benefit from a secure and supportive learning environment at Ignite Achievement Academy, which is designed to help them achieve. To assist your child's intellectual, social, and emotional growth, the school provides a variety of specialized programs and services.

If you're a parent of an autistic child, we urge you to take action and discover more about Ignite Achievement Academy. To learn more about how your child might benefit from this great educational experience, contact us to book a visit or chat with our admissions staff.

You can give your child the skills and support they need to reach their full potential and thrive in life.