As parents and caregivers, we’re all looking for ways to keep our children entertained and stimulated, especially during the summer months when schedules have changed and our kids frequently have more unstructured time. With the warm weather and longer days, we have more options for outdoor activities, too! Below are a few of our favorite summertime activities for kids – and especially kids with Autism who may need extra sensory input!
Six Sensory Activities for Kids with Autism
Make your own playdough – …Or slime or oobleck! The internet if filled with do-it-yourself recipes where creating the stuff is half the fun. Playdough and slime provide the sensory input many kids crave and can help strengthen fine motor skills, too. Making it at home can also be useful if the strong smell of the store-bought version is a problem.
Go on a sensory scavenger hunt – We could write an entire blog on just this activity alone – the options are endless! Can you find something… that you can jump over? that’s smooth? that’s blue? You know your child best, so make the list as open-ended or well-defined as you need. You can bring along a crayon to mark each item off list or let your child take pictures of what they find as they go.
Make an ice painting – Ice painting is a perfect summertime sensory activity. To make ice paint, put a little food coloring in the water in an ice cube tray, add a popsicle stick, and freeze overnight. The paint glides smoothly across the paper, and the colors are great. It’s a perfect paint substitute if you have younger siblings around who are prone to putting things in their mouths. Pro tip: Put down some newspaper or a tarp before you start – food coloring does stain.
Play with scented bubbles – This is another activity where you can make it yourself or find a store-bought version. Blowing bubbles is a fun outdoor activity, and it’s also a great way to remind kids to slow down their breathing and relax their bodies. Adding a scent is just one more way to offer your child sensory input.
Go on a sensory walk – This one requires a little setup. Fill several low-sided plastic tubs (low enough that your kids can walk through them) with different materials, such as sand, water beads, shaving cream, and colored water. Line them up, and let your child walk through the tubs and explore the different sensation each material creates. As you set up your walk, use towels between bins as necessary, and remember to pay attention to when your child might need to rinse their feet (going from shaving cream to sand, for example).
Make a water bucket – A sensory water bucket is as easy as it sounds, and since it involves playing with water, it’s usually a hit. Fill a large plastic tub with water, and add just about anything – bathtub toys, water beads, alphabet toys, or something entirely different. Your child can play with the toys in the water, or they can practice pouring and sorting using a sieve or measuring cups for some extra fine motor practice.
We hope you have fun giving each of these a try! At Innovative Behavior Options, we offer Applied Behavior Analysis therapy (ABA therapy) to help kids with Autism and other special needs improve independence and decrease potentially maladaptive behaviors. To learn more about our approach to ABA therapy and the services we offer, give us a call at 770-250-0093.