Originally published May 2018
Autism, or Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD), refers to a range of developmental conditions that affect how an individual perceives the world and interacts with others.
To find out more about identifying autism in preschool kids, click here.
For children with ASD, art and craft activities that incorporate the senses can be an effective way to improve your kid’s attention span, self-expression and reduce any anxiety related worries. Specially during lockdown, children with ASD may benefit from sensory activities to help soothe them amidst the new normal of not going out.
Take a look at our pick of 7 fun, sensory activities and don’t be afraid to tailor them to your child’s own interests, likes and dislikes.
1. Make a Sensory Bottle:
Fill an old plastic bottle with a mix of water, glitter and a few drops of food coloring to create an eye-catching toy for your kid. Drop in a few buttons or marbles and then seal the lid tightly using a hot glue gun. This activity is a really simple way to help your kid learn to engage and stay focused.
A step-by-step guide to making your own sensory bottle can be found here.
2. Try Coin Rubbing:
A timeless classic that even adults can get involved with. Simply gather up a few different coins, place a sheet of paper over the top and use mixed crayons to ‘rub’ a colorful pattern into the paper. Children with Autism will love making patterns while developing their hand-eye coordination skills.
Bonus Tip: Why not ask friends or family who travel abroad to borrow any coins they have collected and talk to your kid about these places.
3. Thread Edible Jewelry:
Use candy laces and licorice to create pretty necklaces and bracelets. Encourage your kid to hone their motor skills by threading on cereal with holes in the middle and other colorful candies. Once they’ve finished, knot the ends and your kid will be delighted with their fashionable (and tasty) creation.
4. Create a Sensory Collage:
Children with Autism can often find distinct textures and sensations overwhelming. Ease your kid in to more messy activities by making a tactile collage with a small selection of new materials such as aluminum foil, glitter and magazine clippings. Over time your preschooler may enjoy being introduced to a wider range of textures.
5. Incredible Ice Painting:
This fun and easy science experiment is sure to stimulate your child’s curious mind. Pour different colored acrylic paints into an ice tray and place wooden craft sticks in each compartment. Once frozen solid, remove the paints and let your kid create beautiful designs by swirling the melting over paper.
This activity is best suited to a hot, sunny day. Click here to read our pick of sun safety tips.
6. Boost Your Brain With a Smelling Game:
Fill a selection of small containers (old, painted, jam jars work best) with a mix of fragrant ingredients such as lavender, coffee or soap. Place a seal over the top using a piece of fabric and a rubber band and then ask your child to identify the different smells. Children with Autism love to learn about their senses and the roles they play in exploring their environment.
7. Play the Magical Matching Game:
Matching games are a fun way to enhance your child’s learning. Try placing 10-15 different printed words on one side of a table and have your preschooler match these words to their corresponding pictures on the other side of the table. You can easily alter this activity to reflect what your child is learning about at school by using foods, animals or numbers.
What are some your kid’s favorite sensory activities? Let us know in the comments below.
The Autism Speaks Walk is a fundraising activity designed to raise awareness of ASD.