Where to Find Sensory Activities for Autism

Do you wonder about sensory activities for autism?  Moreover, would you like to know what they are? Or what activities children or adults with autism enjoy?

Sensory activities pay extra attention to the senses. That is due to the overlap between sensory overload and autism.  In addition, for children with autism, special sensory activities are often sensory-friendly.  The “friendly” aspect makes these activities easier for autistic children. They are easier to attend. In addition, they are easier to participate in. Therefore, this makes these activities enjoyable both for the child and their families.

Furthermore, parents search for sensory-friendly activities for their child with autism. 

Sensory-friendly describes the way the sensory experience is adapted.  Friendly experiences can happen at a location. Alternatively, they can happen at an event.  In particular, the sensory experience is purposefully changed.  For example, a sensory-friendly activity reduces noise levels. Moreover, background music is turned down or off. In addition, bright lights are also turned down or off. Finally, these adjustments make the environment comfortable for people with sensory issues or sensory sensitivity.  

Sensory-friendly activities

Three examples of sensory activities for autism are:

  • sensory-friendly movies,
  • relaxed performances, and,
  • autism hour for shopping.
Infographic highlighting 3 different sensory-friendly activities.


Learn more in this blog post with information about sensory-friendly movies.    Accordingly, these are special movie events where the house lights in the theatre are on.  On the other hand, the soundtrack volume in the movie is turned down.   “Lights up, sound down” is the key feature.  Furthermore, you can expect other accessibility changes too.

Three kids watching a movie in a sensory-friendly cinema.

Relaxed performances

Relaxed performances in theatres are a great example of a sensory activity for autism.  For example, during a sensory-relaxed theatre performance, house lights are left on. That is similar to the sensory-friendly movies.  Moreover, there are no spotlights or other bright lights during the show. Additionally, performers prepare for a noisier audience.  The performers know that children are likely to move around more during the show.  For more ideas on what comprises a relaxed performance, read about relaxed performances.

For example, InterAction Theatre in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada gave the first sensory-friendly performance in that city in November 2018. 

Shopping Malls

Have you heard about Sensitive Santa events at a shopping mall?  Unlike regular visiting times, only a small number of parents and children meet Santa.  Furthermore, these times often occur by appointment only.  Therefore, a child has plenty of time to become comfortable. Children can take their time to feel well-adjusted to the environment.

Finally, many stores and shopping malls offer autism hour or sensory-friendly shopping times.

Other sensory-friendly locations

In addition, many sports arenas and tourist attractions provide a sensory backpack or sensory kit to visitors.  A sensory backpack or sensory kit includes things like headphones and small fidget toys. Ultimately, sensory tools help an autistic child cope with sensory sensitivity or overload.  For instance, headphones reduce noise and sound for children with sensory sensitivity.  And, for example, fidget toys help a child remain calm and reduce anxiety. 

Furthermore, look for activities such as sensory-friendly yoga, offered by occupational therapist Lindsay Hall.

The following are examples of how other types of locations can become sensory-friendly:

Enjoy sensory-friendly events and places in your community and when you travel. For more inspiration on sensory-friendly activities, check out Sherwood Autism Centre’s blog post. Additionally, explore more with this research, “The Sensory Totes Programme: Sensory-Friendly Autism Program Innovations Designed to Meet COVID-19 Challenges” by Fletcher et al., (2021), where they mention about the  caregiver’s perceptions of the benefits of sensory-friendly activities 1

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  1. Fletcher, T. S., Wiskera, E. S., Wilbur, L. H., & Garcia, N. M. (2021). The Sensory Totes Programme: Sensory-Friendly Autism Program Innovations Designed to Meet COVID-19 Challenges. World Federation of Occupational Therapists Bulletin, 78(1), 44–52. https://doi.org/10.1080/14473828.2021.1943868
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