Sensory Play: Fun Kids’ Activities for your Special Needs Child

When it comes to summer-time fun kids’ activities for children with special needs, it’s sometime hard to find activities that will help your kid with their sensory issues. In our busy, busy worlds, we want to help our kids develop skills and challenge their sensory development. But how do we know what kinds of kids’ activities are best for our sensory-challenged kids?

The first thing to remember is that summer is, for most families, when you are able to challenge your sensory-seeking or sensory-avoidant child the most. Why? Because you can play outside—a natural sensory playground—and you can more easily make the kinds of messes that will not only help your kids, but delight them as well.

3 Tips for Summer Sensory Play:

  1. Water – one of the most beloved and fun kids’ activities any parent can offer is for their kid to run through a sprinkler, go wading in a baby pool, or just splash around in large plastic bowls filled with different amount (or colors!) or water. You don’t even need to change this for your special needs child, just be willing to adapt to their specific sensory needs!
  2. Sand – also one of the easiest kids’ summer activities you can set up for your child. You can use a traditional sand box, build your own, or appropriate a plastic storage bin. For fun on a smaller scale, use all the senses and try this handmade toy that will delight your kid, whether they are special needs or not:
    1. Rinse out an old plastic soda bottle, whatever size you want to play with.
    2. Fill it half way with sand.
    3. Go on a scavenger hunt for very small items to place inside and ‘hide’ in the sand:

i.      Marbles

ii.      Little Army guys (cut off their feet!)

iii.      Tiny accessories (from a doll or action hero!)

  1. Fill the rest of the container with sand.
  2. Use super glue and glue on the lid as you twist it on.
  3. For extra security, wrap brightly-colored duck-tape around the lid as well.
  4. Challenge your kid to find the objects inside (see if they can find them all!)
  5. Bubbles – another one of many easy kids’ summer activities is to play with bubbles! See whose bubble is the biggest. Try to count all of the bubbles before they pop. Try to catch them. For special needs children, especially, this is a fun and enjoyable way to sneak in touch and feel, as well as vision tracking skills. And the best part is that you can all have fun doing it!

See how easy it is to mix in some developmental and sensory play into regular kids’ summer activities? What are some of the best ways you have found to challenge your child during the long summer months?



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