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Is sensory play important for autism?



From the moment they are born, children use all five of their senses to try and make sense of the world around them. This continues throughout early childhood.

What is sensory play?


Sensory play refers to play activities that stimulate your child’s senses, whether it’s touch, smell, taste, movement, balance, sight, or hearing.


As well as the five main senses, sensory play can also support vestibular and proprioceptive senses, which impact the sense of balance and sense of where each body part is in relation to the rest.


Sensory activities allow children to play, create, and explore, while helping their brain to develop strong connections and learn how to respond to sensory information.


Why is sensory play important for children with autism?


Sensory play is vital for all children, but particularly those with autism who often have difficulty making sense of the stimuli they experience through their different senses.


Many children with autism have difficulties with sensory stimulation, which can make the world around them a stressful place. Noisy surroundings and particular environments can cause them to become anxious. They may also have difficulties with communication, flexibility, and understanding other people’s behaviour.


Sensory play activities can be incredibly beneficial for children with autism. Being exposed to different sensory experiences can help your child to learn how to better manage different sensations and interact with the outside world.


Benefits of sensory play for autism


The benefits of sensory play for children with autism, include:


Social skills


Sensory play helps children to develop their communication and social skills. During sensory activities, brain pathways are opened, and nerve connections are built – this allows social skills to be improved.


The process of playing also helps build communication skills.


Co-ordination and physical development


Children with autism often struggle with movement, which can lead to a lack of physical activity, impacting the development of motor skills. Sensory play can support the improvement of coordination and physical development, helping children to develop their fine and gross motor skills.


Picking up small objects and experimenting with their sense of touch helps co-ordination and fine motor skills, while any play activities involving jumping, walking, or squatting can help develop gross motor skills.


Calming


Sensory activities can help calm children down when they are agitated, helping them to recover after melt-downs or avoid them altogether.


Learning process


Sensory play also enhances the learning process as children are using a number of different senses at once.





Sensory activities for children with autism


Children with autism have varying needs and display different behaviours - every child is different. So it’s important to target sensory activities to meet their individual needs.


Examples of sensory play for children with autism include:


· Playdough

· Wet and dry sand

· Picking up and dropping leaves or pasta

· Tasting games

· Frozen toys

· Textured sensory play mats


Happy Feet Play Mats are a great way to integrate sensory play into your daily routine. All of our mats have a different purpose in mind, from improving posture to developing healthy muscles. Have a look at our range of products to find the right combination for you and your family.


Explore our range of mats and get in touch to find out more - drop us an email hello@happyfeetplaymats.co.uk we’d love to hear from you!

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