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Sensory Activities for Preschoolers with Autism

Instructor: Lori Sturdivant

Lori has a specialist's degree in Instructional Leadership/Mild Moderate and currently serves as the Lead Teacher for The University of Southern Mississippi's Autism Project.

Many times, children who are diagnosed with autism have trouble with sensory integration, so activities that stimulate the senses must be carefully selected. This lesson will provide examples and implementation strategies for sensory activities.

What is a Sensory Activity?

Sensory activities are activities that stimulate the senses: touch, smell, sight, hearing and taste. Movement should also be considered when planning activities for pre-schoolers with autism. After all, these should be fun and engaging activities that kids want to participate in.

Sensory experiences are important because they encourage child brain development and help fine-tune focus skills, in addition to improving gross and fine motor skills. Sensory activities also help students with autism regulate their emotions by providing their growing brains with the stimulation they desperately need.

They are many activities that require few outside materials. But keep in mind: These activities can get messy! Consider using a plastic kiddie pool or shower curtain to contain the mess. You could also implement a lot of these activities outside.

Sensory Activities for Autism

There are plenty of ways you can incorporating sensory activities into the everyday life of a preschooler with autism. Tearing paper up or crumpling it, using aluminum foil to make shapes and objects, rubbing sand paper, placing wooden blocks in tin muffin pans, and popping bubble wrap are quick and easy sensory activities. The texture, sight, and sound of these actions are stimulating. Let's take at a look at a few more sensory activities for preschoolers with autism.

Pasta Playtime

Pasta noodles make for a great sensory activity for preschoolers to explore with their sense of touch. You can use any kind of noodle for this type of activity. (You might want to consider cooking the noodles slightly to prevent a choking hazard.) Place the noodles on a plastic surface to contain the mess. The children can fill up different containers with the noodles or just feel their unique shapes and textures. You can also do this with beans!

Pla-Doh Playtime

Play-Doh is also a popular tool for sensory play in pre-school aged children. You can create your own with water, flour, salt, and cream of tartar. There are many recipes for homemade modeling compounds available online. When making your own, you can even select the colors and smells.

Bubble Fun

To help calm a child and increase focus, give them straws and bowls with water and a squirt of dish soap. Then, show them how to blow bubbles. Make sure you get a non-toxic soap in case any water is accidentally sucked back up through the straw.

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