Simple & Fun Sensory Activities for Occupational Therapy

Simple & Fun Sensory Activities for Occupational TherapyChildren with Autism Spectrum Disorder exhibit different patterns of sensory processing when compared to their peer. A big percentage of children with ASD exhibit sensory modulation or sensory processing disorder. Occupational therapy goes a long way to promote, maintain, and develop the skills needed by children to adjust to the regular requirements of a normal life. As a part of occupational therapy some sensory activities go a great way in helping the children gain an understanding of different materials and in developing motor skills.

Some interesting examples of simple sensory activities for occupational therapy are listed here under:

  1. Sensory Salad

Make-believe kitchen activities and hosting parties with imaginary tea and sandwiches is a favourite among children. Encouraging kids to make their own “Sensory salad” is fun way for them to explore different colours, textures and process them. Materials like green construction paper for lettuce, black button for olives, red pompoms for cherry tomatoes give them a sensory experience and might even encourage them to explore more culinary palates. After tearing the “lettuce” and adding the ingredients, help them “toss the salad” with some tongs and then “serve” it. This entire exercise helps them not only with the motor and physical skills, but social skills too.

  1. Bottled Nebula

It is enthralling for a child to hold a sparkling piece of the mystical universe in a jar. Nebula is a colourful dust cloud where stars are born and an amazing classroom project for elementary school kids. Let the child tear up cotton and swirl them in water, as they experience the varied temperatures and textures. On further dipping the cotton in food colouring or non-toxic paints, the child will see how the cotton and the colours interact with each other. Help them create a nebula in the jar with these brightly coloured pieces of cotton and add beans, sequins etc and shaking them well for a number of auditory and tactile experiences.

  1. Creative Gardening

Quite a few children with ASD may have sensory processing issues and disorganization which can really weigh down on them. Let the children engage in some creative gardening and build their own rock gardens. This activity can help the child with tactile processing and visual perceptual skills. Mix up all the rocks, stones, pebbles, rice and coin. Let the child sift through this mixture and separate the coins first, then gather the largest of the rocks and place them in a fishbowl. Encourage the child to arrange the rocks by size and un-bend some pipe cleaners. Now use rice as “mulch” to fill up the fish bowl and “plant” the pipe cleaners. This fun activity addresses special needs related to sensory modulation, sensory discrimination and related sensory processing disorders.

  1. Shake & Make Music – Maracas

Some children with ASD are hypersensitive to noise stimuli and this particular activity can be of great help in these cases. Active participation in making and then using a noisy instrument can effectively reduce their sensitivity to the noise stimulus. Get the child some coffee beans and pennies & encourage them to pick the coffee bean up and smell it before adding them to a bottle one by one. Once the bottle is filled to an apt level, ask them to do the same with pennies. Now close the bottle with the cap and repeat the whole process with another bottle. Now you have two DIY maracas to play with. Encourage the child to shake & make music of their own. This 5 minute craft provides the child with auditory, tactile and aromatic sensory experiences.

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5 Nature Inspired Activities for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder have a set of challenges unique to them. They might be self involved and fail to notice or understand the wonders of the nature or environment that surrounds us.  The following activities would help them explore the natural world and have some fun outdoors while gaining some valuable skills: 1.	Cloud Gazing Take the child outdoors and engage in some sky gazing. While sky gazing encourage the child to look at and talk about the clouds and the shapes they see in them. It is a great activity to facilitate speech therapy in children with ASD. Once the child starts looking at the clouds, nudge them to describe the clouds and the feelings they invoke. 2.	Gardening Help the child start their own garden. Gardening as an activity involves myriad sensory activities like digging, touching dirt, getting messy, planting saplings, watering them etc. Encourage the child to use gardening tools for weeding, watering and harvesting. These activities would not only offer a great range of sensory experiences but also help them with their motor skills. 3.	Make Your Own Bird Feeder This is a great activity that gives you long term enjoyment and engagement. The children would not only enjoy creating the cookie cutter bird feeder but experience various tactile sensations, experience varying temperatures and follow processes to attain a desirable end. After you have hung up the bird feeder up, take some time out every day with the child to sit and enjoy watching the birds eat their snack. 4.	Nature Inspired Scavenger Hunt Create a list of objects that can be easily found in the park, lawn or your own garden and give it to the child. Encourage the child to go out and collect the objects on the list and create a collection. Objects like leaves, grass, twigs, pebbles, and flowers offer a variety of tactile sensory experiences and even smell different. In case the child cannot read yet, prepare a picture list or flash cards for them to enjoy this fun scavenger hunt. 5.	Sorting Through Sorting activities are great and instrumental in occupational therapy for children with ASD. This activity can be easily taken out of doors where you can gather different leaves, sticks, rocks, flowers and more to create a pool of objects readily available in nature. The children can also get the objects from scavenger hunt and then sort them into various categories. Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder have a set of challenges unique to them. They might be self involved and fail to notice or understand the wonders of the nature or environment that surrounds us.

The following activities would help them explore the natural world and have some fun outdoors while gaining some valuable skills:

  1. Cloud Gazing

Take the child outdoors and engage in some sky gazing. While sky gazing encourage the child to look at and talk about the clouds and the shapes they see in them. It is a great activity to facilitate speech therapy in children with ASD. Once the child starts looking at the clouds, nudge them to describe the clouds and the feelings they invoke.

  1. Gardening

Help the child start their own garden. Gardening as an activity involves myriad sensory activities like digging, touching dirt, getting messy, planting saplings, watering them etc. Encourage the child to use gardening tools for weeding, watering and harvesting. These activities would not only offer a great range of sensory experiences but also help them with their motor skills.

  1. Make Your Own Bird Feeder

This is a great activity that gives you long term enjoyment and engagement. The children would not only enjoy creating the cookie cutter bird feeder but experience various tactile sensations, experience varying temperatures and follow processes to attain a desirable end. After you have hung up the bird feeder up, take some time out every day with the child to sit and enjoy watching the birds eat their snack.

  1. Nature Inspired Scavenger Hunt

Create a list of objects that can be easily found in the park, lawn or your own garden and give it to the child. Encourage the child to go out and collect the objects on the list and create a collection. Objects like leaves, grass, twigs, pebbles, and flowers offer a variety of tactile sensory experiences and even smell different. In case the child cannot read yet, prepare a picture list or flash cards for them to enjoy this fun scavenger hunt.

  1. Sorting Through

Sorting activities are great and instrumental in occupational therapy for children with ASD. This activity can be easily taken out of doors where you can gather different leaves, sticks, rocks, flowers and more to create a pool of objects readily available in nature. The children can also get the objects from scavenger hunt and then sort them into various categories.

Proposed Treatments for Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism Spectrum Disorder DelhiAutism Spectrum Disorder does not have a standard treatment or a fixed treatment plan. There, however are a number of guidelines or ways in which the symptoms can be minimized and the abilities and capabilities can be maximised. The most effective therapy or intervention differs from person to person. But highly structured and specialised programs have the best response for people suffering from Autism Spectrum Disorder. There have been cases where apt treatment has helped people with autism attain a near normal level of functioning.

Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder may often be mistaken for those of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD. Hence, it is important to focus on the symptoms and not on labels. By focusing on symptoms and working on minimizing them, there is a better chance of addressing the child’s special needs.

There are numerous therapies on offer for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Some are listed hereunder:

  • Behavioral Management Therapy – through this therapy there is an effort to reduce the unwanted behavioural traits and emphasize on the desirable behavioural traits.
  • Cognitive Behaviour Therapy – this therapy emphasizes to help develop a connection between feelings & behaviour.
  • Early Intervention – it has been observed that through an early intervention at pre-school age or before, the results are more positive.
  • Joint Attention Therapy – the focus of this therapy is on improving specific skills related to joint attention like pointing, showing, and coordinating looks between a person and an object.
  • Medication Treatment – though there is no medication to treat Autism Spectrum Disorder, but some medicines are known to help treat some of the symptoms. Medication used with behavioural therapy is known to bring in quite a change.
  • Nutritional Therapy – the children with ASD might be picky about what they eat or resist eating altogether. It is important to collaborate with a good dietician to ensure nourishment and good health.
  • Occupational Therapy – this helps the children with ASD to complete their everyday tasks by making the most of their abilities, needs, and interests.
  • Parent-mediated Therapy – parents of the children with ASD learns therapy techniques from the professionals and provides these specific therapies to their children.
  • Physical Therapy – this includes activities and therapy that focuses on building motor skills & strength and improve posture & balance.
  • Social Skills Training – this is a training to help children with ASD interact socially with peer especially.
  • Speech-language Therapy – this therapy focuses on helping the children with ASD improve their ability to communicate.

It is important to discuss all possible treatments and therapy with your doctor and come up with a personalised plan best suited to cater to the needs of your child with a focus on addressing the symptoms of the Autism Spectrum Disorder.