Where to Find Sensory Activities for Autism
Parents often search for sensory activities for their child with autism.
Sensory activities are those that pay extra attention to the senses and they are helpful for an autistic child. For children with autism, sensory activities are called sensory-friendly.
The phrase sensory-friendly is used to describe a sensory activity at a place or an event where noise levels are less, bright lights are less, and the environment is generally more comfortable for people with sensory issues.
You might have heard about Sensitive Santa or Sensitives Easter Bunny events at a mall. Unlike regular visiting time, a small number of parents and children meet Santa or the Easter Bunny during designated, specific times. These times are often by appointment, with plenty of time given for the child to get comfortable. Background music might be turned off in the mall.
Unlike regular visiting time, a small number of parents and children meet Santa or the Easter Bunny during designated, specific times. These times are often by appointment, with plenty of time given for the child to get comfortable. Background music might be turned off in the mall.
There are sensory-friendly movie screenings at several movie theatres, where the house lights are not turned off, or only turned down a little. And the sound from the movie is not quite as loud.
Sensory activities might also include something that is called sensory-relaxed or sensory inclusive. For example, during a sensory-relaxed theatre performance, house lights are left on or not turned down as much during the performance or concert. Spotlights might be used less. Actors are prepared that the audience, often of children with autism, might me noisier that usual patrons or move around during the performance. Music or sound might not be quite as loud.
Finally, many sports arenas and tourist attractions are now offering a sensory backpack or sensory kit to visitors. A sensory backpack or sensory kit often has headphones and small fidget toys to help an autistic child who might be overwhelmed by the sounds and lights at a busy tourist attraction like a zoo.
What is an Autism Sensory Room?
An autism sensory room or a sensory room is a room full of different sensory activities. Some activities and toys might be calming, some might help an autistic child focus and other might help a child with autism get engaged and become alert.
Sensory autism activities are ones that involve many of the senses. So a sensory room might have things like a rocking chair, mini-trampoline, indoor swing, a bean bag chair, fidget toys, toys that make sound, toys that have lights, toys that move.
Autism sensory rooms can be created at home or at school. Autism sensory rooms are also found at sport arenas to help children enjoy things like basketball games. For an autistic child, the noise and lights of a basketball game might be overwhelming if they are hyper-sensitive. Having a sensory room as a place to take a break allows the whole family to enjoy the game.
Christel Seeberger has more than 25 years’ experience as an occupational therapist helping sensory-friendly seekers and providers. Christel is a sensory-friendly seeker herself; she has hearing loss. She founded Sensory Friendly Solutions to bring together the sensory-friendly community around the world and help people like you who are interested in sensory-friendly living.