By Ashleigh Evans, MS, BCBA
With the start of Summer comes endless possibilities of fun in the sun, from beach days to festivals and fireworks. But for many children with sensory challenges, some of these activities can be overstimulating. Instead, there are many fun and individualizable activities for your child to enjoy which meet their sensory needs. Let’s review a few activities that you and your family can try before Fall comes back around.
Water tables make for a fun way to explore different textures. There are many activities you can do with water tables to make them both fun and educational.
- Place objects in the water table and give your child a net to “fish” them out. You could use letters, numbers, colored ducks, etc.
- Fill it with dirt and rocks and dig or drive through it with toy trucks.
- Fill the table with water beads, sand, shaving cream, or pom poms and explore the different textures.
- If your water table is small enough, you could place the water table in your bathtub. Your child can enjoy water play in a structured way indoors on rainy days.
Scavenger hunts can be so exciting. They encourage physical activity, exploring, and learning about the environment. They also require problem-solving and creativity. There are countless ways to make these unique and enjoyable.
- Pick a theme of high interest for your child and curate the scavenger hunt around that theme. Examples: Dinosaurs, princesses, letters, etc.
- Choose items to search for that your child is currently working on learning about. For example, if they’re working on identifying animals, the scavenger hunt may consist of animal toys, stuffed animals, animal puzzles, etc.
- Take a walk around the neighborhood, searching for safety signs, items in nature, or other objects around your environment.
For your highly active sensory seeker, obstacle courses are a unique way to burn energy and have fun. These may be used to work on balance, coordination, and motor planning as well. This is another great activity where creativity can shine.
- Set up cones or other barriers to run or jump or hop around.
- Place climbing blocks, stepping stones, or other uneven surfaces to walk on and climb through.
- Move through the obstacle course like different animals-Bear crawl, hop like a bunny, etc.
For children who enjoy water, but get overstimulated in large crowds like there are at waterparks or the beach, there are so many other fun ways to explore the water.
- Sprinklers – The sprinkler level may need to be adjusted to fit your child’s comfort. For example, if your child does not like getting their face wet, but does like to run through the water, having the sprinkler level low would meet that desire.
- Water balloons – While some children with hypersensitivity to stimuli may not enjoy a water balloon fight, they may find enjoyment in the actions of throwing water balloons and watching them splash when hit on surfaces.
- Let them hose the car or bikes, fill up a bucket with water, or water the plants. So many options!
Fall is right around the corner. Before the cool air comes back around, try some of the activities suggested above to enjoy the weather in a sensory-friendly environment. Be sure to personalize each activity around your child’s interests, skillset, and needs.
About the Author
Ashleigh Evans is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst who has worked in the field of behavior analysis since 2009. She recently went into private practice and freelance writing. When she’s not working with clients or writing, she can be found chasing her three boys around and exploring nature.