A stay-at-home setup can be particularly difficult for children living with autism. Since they can’t go to their special school or attend therapy, their daily routine gets disrupted, bringing more stress into their everyday lives.
“Depending on developmental levels, the difficulty of understanding why a routine is disrupted, how long it’s going to last, wondering when it’s over—all of that adds a lot of unknowns. It can add anxiety,” reveals Donna Murray, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, Adjunct Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Vice President at Autism Speaks for Clinical Programs and Head of the Autism Treatment Network.
If your child undergoes meltdowns because of the stress brought about by this global pandemic, then your go-to strategy is applying sensory activities. Sensory plays help regulate and prevent stress for those with this disorder. It not only distracts them from the environmental stressors around, but it also stimulates their five senses. This method develops fundamental life skills, improves creativity, and facilitates understanding.
With this in mind, here are some of the best sensory activities you can do with your kid with autism while in lockdown.
Paint With Shaving Cream
Children adore playing with shaving cream. That’s good since this is probably one of the cheapest sensory items out there. To start, spray some unscented shaving cream on a large and spacey countertop or a large container and let your child play with it. He or she may create the most creative artwork possible.
If you want to add a little bit of sizzle to this activity, you may incorporate a couple of drops of food coloring or tempera paint to the shaving cream. It will add a little excitement to your kid’s masterpiece.
Homemade Musical Instruments
You have an option to buy the most expensive musical instruments for your child. Are you aware, however, that building these treasures can be as exciting and fun as playing with them? Check out some ideas below:
- Drums: Use plastic tubs as the drums itself and wooden spoons as the beater
- Shakers: Fill empty plastic bottles with either dried beans or rice
- Chimes: Attach shells or bottle tops on a string and hang them
In this activity, you will need an old plastic bottle as your primary tool. Once you have gotten one, add a mix of water, a few drops of food coloring, and a pinch of glitter to create an eye-catching and unique toy for your kid. You may also drop a couple of marbles and buttons to keep the sensory bottle more colorful and exciting. After placing everything inside, seal the lid tightly through the use of a hot glue gun.
This activity may look simple, but it’s an excellent way for your kid to learn about the importance of focus and engagement.
Shredded Paper Bins
Kids love treasure hunts. Shredded paper bins work the same with that of treasure hunts – only that your child doesn’t have to run around the whole house.
The first thing that you should do is to look for scrap papers, either from magazines, old books, old documents, or used notebooks. Then, shred this using a shredder. The tiny bits you get from this should be placed on an empty bin. Make sure that you fill-up the container, or the activity won’t be as successful as you plan.
Once you have established your paper bin, drop small items into it. These may range from toys, utensils, little books, and other accessories that can camouflage with the shredded papers. After, create a list for your kid, which he or she will use as a guide to finding the ‘hidden treasures.’ All he or she has to do is to dig around and tick everything on the list. Simple as that!
Food Tasting Game
In this activity, you aim to let your child taste various types of food while blindfolded. He or she should be able to guess it in just three tries. As a parent, it is within your discretion on what you’ll place in your ‘menu’ – it may depend on what your kid likes or dislikes.
Keep in mind, however, that this food tasting game can also be a platform to introduce new textures and tastes. Your choices may revolve around bananas, yogurt, cereal, tomato sauce, jelly, rice cakes, and more.
This pandemic might be placing massive stress on everyone’s shoulders. But as a parent, you should look for ways that will ease the burden experienced by your child, and as mentioned, sensory activities can be your solution. So go and try all of these games now!