Did you know that our brain is made of trillions of brain cells called neurons and the connections between them are called synapses?! During the first three years of life, the brain of a baby can grow rapidly, and while the brain of a newborn can have 50 trillion of synapses, the brain of a three-year-old can have 1000 trillion synapses. Healthy child brain development is important, and while you can help them in that through talking and reading, let’s not forget about playing, especially with sensory toys.
Why Are Sensory Toys Important?
Sensory play is a type of play activity that can stimulate children’s senses which can be extremely beneficial for kids with autism. Children with autism seem to have a problem with grasping toys or things with sensory stimulation and these toys are a great way to help them overcome this condition. Unfortunately, the changes in mood and behaviour are quite common for them, so giving them the needed attention, especially in school is paramount. In the end, this is the place where children can improve their behaviour and learn lots of new things.
What Are Sensory Toys?
Sensory items or toys are specially-made toys for children, and extremely beneficial for children with autism. They can help them develop their physical and mental abilities through stimulating the five human senses: sight, touch, smell, taste and hearing. For children with autism, these toys are a great way to help them engage their senses in a less distracting way.
Benefits Of Sensory Items for Students with Autism
Improving concentration and focus is a daunting task, however, the use of quality and age-appropriate sensory items for students with autism is fundamental for their development. By using such toys, you can help them engage with their senses, providing feedback to their sensory system which in turn can regulate their sensory needs. All in all:
- Sensory products can help children relax and calm down for a particular event
- Can help them better grasp things, without feeling discomfort and fear. That way, they can play naturally, just like any other kid
- Can help them develop their gross motor skills
- Can stimulate their brain and improve the neural processing system
- Can enhance their coordination
- Can help them develop their social-learning skills like sharing, planning and negotiating
- Can improve their social skills like participating in a conversation with other people.
Here is a list of some sensory school toys that can help autistic children engage and develop their senses.
As the name implies, this toy can help children with autism to develop their senses of touch and smell. You can invest in ready-made clay or make your own. You can create smaller pieces and put them into separate bowls where you can add several drops of different ingredients like vanilla essence, cinnamon essential oil, lemon juice, orange juice etc. In order to create an attractive look, you can add a few drops of liquid food colouring.
Looking similar to the surgical scrub brush, the sensory one is designed to help people with sensory dysfunction. This small but mighty item can provide sensory input in students in a calming manner. Usually, these brushes feature long and super soft feathery bristles made of silicone that can provide positive sensory and visual input from all of the gained fascinating patterns by touching it.
The truth is that some children with autism might need deep pressure to help them organise their thoughts and improve their focus. These pieces of equipment may provide children with more than just deep pressure and thought organisation. It has been said that pressure rollers can also allow children to improve their shoulder stability and body awareness when using them. Depending on the type of roller you choose for your classes, the degree of pressure can be regulated in order to allow a proper level of proprioceptive feedback for each individual student. The best thing about these toys is that they can be used at home as well, so parents could benefit from them a lot.
Footprint Painting Activities
For this activity, you will only need some painting materials and a large paper. For instance, you can encourage the children to create petals by using their feet or hands, or you can simply let them use their own imagination and create whatever they want.
These are just some of the many sensory activities and toys that can promote the use of all of the five senses. Investing in as many as you can, will certainly help both teachers and students have successful class sessions which can positively affect the students’ overall behaviour.