FUN AND BENEFICIAL SENSORY GAMES FOR AUTISTIC KIDS
There is nothing more important than knowing that your autistic child finds happiness despite their condition. Raising an autistic child is undeniably a challenge, but seeing smiles on their face will always bring that rewarding feeling and that great sense of parenthood. Like normal kids, autistic children love to play games, not just for the fun of it, but to quench their deep interest and fascination. However, the fact that they have special needs means that kids with autism may look at games quite differently compared to their non-autistic counterparts, mostly because of their motor issues and sensory problems. Movement-intensive games can easily discourage autistic kids that have poor motor coordination and weak muscles. If your child is still undergoing physical or occupational therapy, it is not advisable to let them join in this type of games. On the other hand, games that stimulate sensory responses are good for your kid if they are sensory-seeking, otherwise, introduce games that minimize sensory inputs as much as possible. In the topic of sensory games, many autism communities have come up with highly enjoyable and beneficial setups that your child can play at home. The best part is, some of these games are DIY, which means you don’t have to buy an expensive set of toys or tools for the game to work. You can create the necessary tools from scratch.
Autistic kids who are sensory deprived can get a lot of stimuli they need just from playing with beans that are multi-colored, specifically for the sense of touch and sight. All you need is a handful of dried lima beans or any other variety of similar-sized beans, and a set of vibrant food coloring. In a container, put a cup of beans and follow it up with 15-20 drops of the food coloring of your choice. Cover the container with the lid, or seal it if you’re using a plastic bag then shake it well for a good 10-30 seconds until you see the beans evenly coated with the food coloring. After that, get all the beans out of the container and straight into a paper towel to dry.
To increase your child’s interest in playing with the beans, you can try multiple batches of beans with different variants of food coloring, until you make a full rainbow set of colored beans. The color in the beans can last as long as three months or even more. If you are planning to introduce this game to your child, you need to make sure that they are way past the stage where they put everything into their mouth, because beans are classified as choking hazard for kids.
Layered Ice Tower Mine
This game is ideal for hot afternoons or summer days when children want to touch and feel something cold. The concept of the game is pretty simple, which is to free the trapped items inside a huge block of ice that stands like a tower made from a layer of multiple objects. Your child will be given the tools needed to extract the objects, which include salt, eyedropper, and paintbrush as if they’re role-playing the work of an archeologist.
To make the block of ice, you need to find a cylindrical container and freeze each object in different time frames. The first object should be submerged in just the right amount of water and frozen, after which more water is poured and the second object is put in place, and so on. The objects you can put may include candies, small toys, jewelry, and similar colorful stuff that will increase your child’s interest in playing with the ice. Arrange the objects according to color or your child’s level of interest as you visualize how they would look like when they are frozen and the block of ice is made to stand. You would be surprised by just how much focus and effort your child will put into this game. What’s great about this game is that you can call it a day after your child manages to extract one or two objects, and leave the rest of the ice tower for tomorrow, giving you more time to come up with new game ideas.
Slime and Polka Dots
Playing with slime is a fun and sensory-filled game for autistic kids. With the addition of pom-poms into the slime, your child will surely spend the rest of their play time stretching and squeezing the slime and the pom-poms inside it. It should be noted, however, that this game is not intended for children who are still mouthing.
To make the slime, gradually mix liquid starch into 10 ounces of clear glue in a container. Stir the mixture well until you make a thick slime that doesn’t stick anymore to the sides of the container. Add in the pom-poms of your desired number into the slime and knead it until they are bonded together. Your child can play this game for weeks if you keep the slime in a sealed container after your child is finished playing with it.
Foam-Filled Bath Tub
Playing in a bathtub full of colorful foams will surely perk the interest of your autistic child especially if they are a fan of bubbles. Your child is free to add any toys or objects into the tub and make their own concept of the game.
To make the foam, all you need is a mixer, 2 tablespoons of dish soap, 1/4 cup of clear water, and a set of food coloring. To make multiple colors of foam, you have to make batches mixed with different food coloring. Pour in a bit of the water and the dish soap, as well as your chosen food color. Choose the highest setting for the mixture for a more stiff foam. Repeat this process for different colored batches and put all the foam into the tub for your children to play. Be there to supervise and to make sure that your kid will not ingest the foam or have it rubbed into the eyes.