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A Feast of Fun for Children with Autism!

Autism is a condition that manifests itself in myriad ways. That said, an extremely common trait among children with autism is the profound enjoyment they derive from exploring and utilising their senses. This edition of the Jobskin® blog offers some practical ideas to parents and carers on how they can provide sensory fun and pleasure for children with autism.

Child and parent paintingA Tactile Table

Use a table that has high sides; if you don't have one then get creative and use pieces of wood or plastic to add sides to an ordinary table. You could even attach a big tray to a table instead. Fill the table with whatever you think will stimulate the senses of the child: sand is a great option as it is a very tactile substance and can be used in infinite ways.

Colour Cubes

With just some water-based paint, an ice-cube tray and a freezer, you can create a whole new artistic experience. With the help of the child, make some ice cubes using the paints (take the opportunity to explain the liquid-to-solid process). The frozen paint cubes can then be used like crayons to create unique artwork, albeit of the messy kind!

Shapes on Sticks

On paper or card of different colours, draw several shapes and cut them out. Each half-shape should then be stuck firmly onto a lolly stick. The aim of the game is for your child to match the two halves together: they will gain great satisfaction when the shape is whole again. The game is also a good opportunity to learn the names of the shapes and their colours.

Clay Play

Children's modelling clays (like plasticine or play dough) are especially fun for young people with autism to make use of. You can try setting them tasks by asking them to build a particular thing: tailor your suggestions to the child's own personal preferences. You can also let them use their own imagination and see what they come up with. As well as providing a pleasurable experience for the senses, playing with modelling clay helps to improve fine motor skills.

What's that Smell?

Smell is one of the senses that is often neglected when it comes to sensory play. To create a game that uses the sense of smell, fill a number of opaque containers with different things that have distinctive odours: coffee, mint, soap and citrus fruits are some ideas to get you started. Can the child identify what is in the containers by smell alone?

Super Songs

Children with autism often thrive on routine and repetition. There are hundreds of different songs that have repeating choruses to choose from: a quick internet search will leave you spoiled for choice! It's a great idea to find songs that have an educational element and, if they include physical actions that go along with the words then that's even better. Sing together and we guarantee you'll soon be having just as much fun as they are.

We'd love to extend this list further so we want YOUR input! We'd love to hear from people who interact with children who have autism, whether they are parents, teachers, carers or anyone else so please do get in touch...