The following article offers some useful sensory integration activities for children with autism. Read on for activities which will help in developing the "five senses" in autistic children…
Sensory integration disorder is very common amongst children who are autistic. Children who suffer from this disorder, are unable to integrate information that the body’s senses i.e. touch, smell, taste, sight and hearing, send to the brain. Due to this inability, it becomes difficult for them to respond to their environment, in a right way. To overcome this, there are a number of useful activities, that can be planned and conducted, at home as well as classrooms. Here are a few of them…
Sensory Activities for Autistic Children
One of the most effective activities for autistic children is to engage them in some craft activities. So, give them clay dough and have them make different shapes out of it. Finger painting on a plain chart paper is a good idea too. Initially, you can hold the children’s hands and teach them how to draw with their fingers. Later on, the children will be able to do the same, on their own.
Certain autistic children are unable to control their bodies and movements. To them, toys such as rocking chairs, scooter boards, glider rockers, swings, etc. should be provided. While playing on these, the autistic children will form a sense of balance and would learn quite a bit about body movements.
Autistic children who are sensitive to smells and those who have difficulty in relating smells to things, both can benefit a lot through aromatherapy. One of the useful activities for children with autism is to have them sit in a circle and then light scented candles, diffusers or aromatherapy machines in the room. This can prove to be very therapeutic to the children as the perfumes of natural oils will calm and relax their nerves.
To provide autistic children a sense of touch, sand and water is the ideal form of play. So, give the children a few containers. Get some play sand and fill the containers with it as well as water. Allow the children to put their hands in these buckets so that they can feel what is inside. It will sharpen their sense of touch. An even better idea is to fill a wading pool with water and ask the children to get inside. This way, the children will get to touch their entire body with water.
Heavy Work Activities
Such activities are a must for children who have difficulty in sitting still or regulating their body movements. Children with these sort of problems can be recognized with the way they keep on moving their legs, even while sitting or you will see them being extremely jumpy, hyperactive and difficult to control themselves. Some of the activities that can be planned for such kids are – pulling, pushing and playing with balls, sucking and chewing on something, blowing a whistle, squeezing a ball, amongst others.
Playing “kid’s sandwich” in which a child is made to lie down on a large pillow and then another one is placed on top of him, followed by gently pressing him from top, is a great way to make him learn how to control his body.
Music and Dance Activities
To improve upon their sense of hearing, activities such as listening to a variety of music and dancing on it, should be planned. To combine developing a sense of hearing and touch, playing musical instruments can be included as well. In fact, music should be included in day-to-day living of the children as well. For instance, a particular kind of music can be played, hearing which, the children should be instructed to do a particular thing, like standing or sitting. If instructions are related to music, children will be able to develop a better sense of hearing.
If the activities for sensory integration are planned appropriately, they can decrease sensitivity of autistic children to all the five senses as well as develop the same, resulting in them being able to react and respond to the environment, like others. To increase their effectiveness, the activities should always be planned, keeping a particular child in mind. Also, they should be fun for him, not hectic, if maximum benefits are to be achieved!