6 Easy Sensory Activities for Autism

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Sensory activities are a great way for kids with autism to engage with their environment in a creative and fun way. They’re also helpful to incorporate as brain breaks for kids. By engaging with different textures, sounds, smells, and colors, children with autism can explore and process sensations in a fun way. 

These hands-on sensory activities allow children with autism to learn from experience and feel more at ease in new environments. They incorporate exploration and curiosity and can improve your child’s sensory processing abilities. Additional benefits of sensory activities include improvement in hand-eye coordination and communication skills.

A wide range of sensory activities can be done with your child at home or in your neighborhood. Here are a few sensory play activities for children with autism that will engage their senses and encourage them to explore the world with confidence.  

child focusing on cutting play dough
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Dinosaur Ice Excavation

This simple activity only requires a freezer and your child’s favorite toys. Pour water into a freezer-friendly bowl and add a few plastic dinosaurs. Once the first layer is frozen solid, add a few more and so on, until the bowl is full. 

Once everything is completely frozen, run some hot water over the bowl to loosen the ice block. Your child can use a spoon, tweezers, and a squeeze bottle filled with warm water to excavate the dinosaurs. 

The dinosaurs can be swapped with any toy to accommodate your child’s interests. This activity is versatile and simple yet very entertaining. Kids have a great time chipping away at the ice and they’re able to practice fine motor skills during sensory play. 

hands playing with play dough
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Build Shapes with Playdough

Playdough can be an excellent sensory activity for children with autism because it provides interesting tactile sensations and allows room for creativity. If you’re looking for a bit more structure in this classic activity, have your child build different shapes with the playdough. 

Molding the dough into triangles, squares, circles, and cubes can help your child make observations and practice their motor skills as they recreate the shapes. Different colors can be used as well to enhance the visual sensory information being processed. 

If you want to take this activity one step further, you can add a drop of essential oil to the playdough to enhance the sensory experience. Essential oil is quite strong, so be sure to use a very small amount of therapeutic-grade oil and mix it well before allowing your child to play. 

Window Painting with Shaving Cream

Window painting is a great indoor sensory activity for children with autism. This activity allows children to express their creativity and practice fine motor skills. Window painting with shaving cream is an awesome way to create a sensory experience on rainy days while staying inside.

Choose a window that’s low to the ground and easily reachable by your child. Spread an even layer of shaving cream across the window to create a blank canvas. Depending on age and ability, you can offer handheld sponges or paint brushes for your child to draw on the foam. 

If you want to enhance the sensory experience, you can add washable paint colors to the shaving cream. Adding color increases sensory stimulation and creates endless possibilities for creativity!

hands in whipped cream for a sensory activities for autism
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Create a Sensory Bin

Sensory bins are a convenient and easy way to create a sensory experience for your child with autism. This activity can be set up with items you most likely already have in your home. Start by building the base and fill the container with rice or macaroni pasta. 

Once you’ve got your base, you can mix in additional items for your child to search for. A few ideas for sensory bin items include toy cars, figurines, keys, cookie cutters, rubber ducks, or anything else interesting you can find in the toy bin or kitchen. 

Next, provide your child with tools to use to explore the sensory bin. Measuring cups, soup laddles, tweezers, and spoons work great and provide an opportunity to practice fine motor skills. The different textures and colors will peak your child’s curiosity and they’ll have a great time scavenging for the hidden items in the bin. 

Need some ideas? Here are 5 easy sensory bin ideas to get you started.

Plastic Bag Kites

This craft takes less than 5 minutes to make and can provide your child with hours of fun. You only need a plastic bag and a piece of string for this project. 

Tie the two handles of the bag together at the base of the bag with a small piece of string. Next, tie a longer piece of string at the handles. You’ll want to keep the string 3 feet or shorter. 

Depending on age and ability, this can be a great opportunity to practice measuring and tying knots. You can offer your child stickers to decorate their kite for added fun. Once your kite is ready for flight, you can take it outside and set sail! 

The sound of the kite flapping in the wind and the fresh air from running around provide a fantastic outdoor sensory experience. Running the kite around the yard is also a great way for your child to build on their gross motor skills.

kids scooping things out of water
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Balloon Stamping

Balloon stamping is a fun art project that incorporates color, texture, and creativity. For this sensory activity, you’ll need small balloons, paper or canvas, and paint. Acrylic paint works best for this activity, but washable paint is a good option for younger children. 

Select a few bright colored paints and place them into a bowl. Multiple colors can be added to the same bowl for a tie-dye effect. Blow up a small balloon and lay a piece of paper or canvas out for your child to paint on. When you’re ready to start painting, have the child dip their balloon in a color of their choosing and stamp it onto their canvas.

This process can be done as many times with as many colors as you’d like; the possibilities are endless! Some fun shapes to create with the balloon include clouds, ice cream cones, and smiley faces. This activity allows for self-expression and creativity and provides tactile and visual stimulation. 

sensory activity for autism

Final Thoughts

Sensory activities are a great way to help your child with autism process sensory information, practice motor skills, and express creativity. Engaging in sensory play often doesn’t require fancy toys or special supplies—all you need is a bit of creativity! 

For more inspiration, check out Simon Says Ideas and Calming Corner Ideas to read about additional activities for children with autism. 

Author

  • Rachel Froelich

    Rachel is a writer with 6 years of experience. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a dual major in Philosophy from Montana State University. In addition to writing, Rachel has worked as a caregiver for individuals with autism. In her free time, Rachel enjoys climbing, reading, and hiking with her dog.

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