Children with Autism often have difficulties when it comes to processing information and sensory based items could aid with this issue. Sensory items could include various textures, smells, sounds, visual aids, and more. When it comes to stimulating the senses of a child with Autism, it’s important to provide an array of objects that he or she would benefit from.
By allowing an Autistic child to explore through sensory play, it will allow them to benefit in many ways. These include:
- Calming oneself down when upset or bothered
- Developing social skills by engaging with others and sensory objects
- Improving both gross and fine motor skills
- Stimulating the brain and possibly improving problem solving skills
Varying atmospheres can cause an autistic child to become easily agitated. A child may be lacking school due to the pandemic or summer and need an outlet for the frustration or anxiety he or she is building up. Having the option to go to a sensory room will allow the child to stimulate the brain and calm down.
Making sure the room is equipped with many items that allow for sensory play, is important. Below is a list of items that a sensory room could include.
- Weighted Blankets
- Sensory Lighting
- Scented Playdough
Weighted blankets are exactly what they sound like. They are blankets that have weights distributed all around them. What’s the science behind this? Since the blanket is heavier than a traditional one, it can act as a �hug’ in a sense. A child can drape the blanket around them and feel a sense of comfort as if someone is hugging them. This can be done in a stressful situation or when a child is trying to fall asleep. Occupational therapists (OTs) have been using this tool for quite some time with their clients.
There are many different aspects of lighting that could affect a child with autism. The color of the lighting could produce a varied response, as well as the brightness of the light. Cool colors, like blues, purples, and greens, can create a calming effect and soothe a child who is distressed. Having the ability to set the color of the lighting in a room is important.
Bright lights, lights that flicker, or lights that are noisy could cause a child to have an adverse reaction. Therefore, being able to dim the lights or ensuring the lights are working properly is important to calming a child down.
There are also a variety of lamps and toys that have lighting features that stimulate a child’s brain. By finding multiple ways to implement proper lighting, you’ll see great benefits.
A recently popular item that can soothe a child with Autism is scented playdough. Including this sensory item in a room will activate many senses in a child. First, playing with the playdough has the ability to calm a child down. The texture and ability to manipulate the dough into various shapes can relieve stress. Also, by shaping the playdough, a child is also improving his or her fine motor skills. Lastly, the scents can have a soothing impacting. Choosing appropriate essential oils can act as an aroma therapy tool. Scented playdoughs are available for purchase or there are many DIY recipes out there that can be researched.
A sensory room can also be equipped with several exercise items, including a trampoline. Children with autism often need physical stimulation at multiple points throughout the day. A trampoline can offer many benefits. One benefit is the improvement of gross motor skills. By jumping up and down, the child is practicing coordination. Also, self stimulation helps a child calm down. Many children with autism do not have the verbal communication to express their needs. This physical activity is a way for them to get out their anxiety or aggression.
There are many items that a sensory room can contain. Remembering that each child has specific needs and abilities is important when planning out your room. There is no cookie cutter list of items to include. Understand each child has his or her own way of coping with the world around them. Items like weighted blankets, sensory lighting, trampolines, and scented playdough are a few ways to get started when trying to calm a child down or stimulate the brain.
Ava Wadaby is a contributing writer for Autism Parenting Magazine. She researches and writes about autism as she works to understand the challenges of her son who was diagnosed with Autism and ADHD. She also regularly conducts activities with children in her neighborhood, focusing on their learning and development.