The Benefits of Sensory Play for Children with Disabilities

What Sensory play is, how sensory development begins, and tips for sensory stimulation for special needs children

Definition of Sensory Play

sensory playAs humans, we have five senses through which we experience and explore our world. They are hearing, smell, touch, sight, and taste. As a parent, allowing your child to engage in play activities that appeal to their senses is important. Through sensory play, children can experience stimulation of their senses. Simply said, we engage in and understand life though the sensory information our senses pick up.

Baby Sensory Play Is Where It All Begins

Children as babies have a tendency to want to put everything in their mouth. The reason they do this is because a baby's first instinct to survive is to find food. So a baby's mouth provides critical sensory input to help them thrive. So it's natural for babies to suck on thumbs, their own first, and toys to explore their environment.

Sensory Development and Sensory Stimulation As Children Grow

In early childhood education, teachers know that children have different preferred sensory inputs for learning. Some children listen best through auditory (hearing) information. Other children learn better through seeing material being written on a blackboard or in a textbook (sight). Still other children have a dominant learning style of kinesthetic (moving). Often when educational material is reinforced by a combined style (for instance written and spoken material) students retain more information. Every individual has a dominant (preferred) style for sensory input.

Sensory Play and Sensory Stimulation for Autistic Children Can Create Sensory Overload

sensory playDisabilities can cause some children to be over stimulated by certain sensory inputs. Some autistic children may feel uncomfortable in an environment that is over stimulating their sight, hearing, or sense of touch. Being aware of any music, sounds, or lights in the background can help an autistic child to be more comfortable. Autistic children also may react to sensory input with behaviors such as head banging, hand tapping, or kicking feet to help their bodies process the sensory information they are receiving.

Sensory Processing Disorder Affects Sensory Play For Children

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) can cause some children to misunderstand the sensory data they are receiving. This can cause them to engage in different responses to sensory stimuli then other children. For some children this may mean minimizing the sensory stimuli to make them comfortable. For other SPD children, it can mean needing to increase sensory input so they are able to sense it.

Toys Are The Perfect Tool to Engage in Sensory Play

Parents can stimulate their children's sensory play through the use of toys and imaginative play. Each special needs child may have unique needs. Sensory play can enhance and develop their skills by engaging their senses. Below are some benefits for sensory play for children.

- Sensory play gives children something new and exciting to experience

- Sensory play helps kids comprehend items in their environment

- Sensory play assists youth in processing and creating meaning out of their life experiences

- Sensory play helps develop and engage memory in the brain

- Sensory play makes the data collection process function more effectively for children

- Sensory play speeds learning

- Sensory play increases awareness of a child's body

- Sensory play strengthens the sense that a child is engaging

- Sensory play can provide comfort and calm for a cranky, irritated child

- Sensory play can motivate and excite a lethargic child and get them moving

Parents Can Engage in Sensory Activities with Their Child

When parents play with their children, they can look at the play experience they are creating for their child from a sensory play standpoint. By consciously choosing to create a sensory experience they can enrich their child's world and enhance their development. What wonder can be sparked in the mind of a child today though ?

Engage Children in a World of Wonder Through Sensory Plays that Stimulates Sight, Sound, Taste, Touch, or Smell


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