Six homemade sensory toys and activities for your child with autism

With spring break just around the corner, now is the perfect time to plan sensory and brain-enhancing activities to do with your child.

Below are six great ideas you can do on a shoestring budget in any weather!

  1. Homemade paper plate puzzles. They are fun to make, and can be adjusted to suit the individual needs of your child. Start by painting the paper plates a solid color. You can do this by finger-painting, or with a paintbrush if your child is tactilely sensitive. Allow the paint to dry. Talk about color and, if you have them, add drops of scent matching fruits of that color to the plates (for example: strawberry on a red plate, lemon on a yellow plate, orange on an orange plate, etc.). Once the plates have dried, cut them into puzzle pieces. You can grade the difficulty of the puzzle according to the skill level of the child. Mix them up and have fun watching and helping your child.
  1. Rainbow salt drawing. Tape colored strips of construction paper to the bottom of a tray or baking pan. Fill the tray with enough salt to cover the bottom. Now have your child imitate your lines, curved line, shapes, letters, and more!
  1. Taped lines. Tape colored lines on the floor for your child to walk on or blow pom-poms on through a straw. Start with a straight line and work toward more curves and zig-zags for a greater challenge. Set up two sets side-by-side for a pom-pom race!
  1. Colored Ice Cubes. Create a tray full of colored ice cubes using kool-aid, food coloring, or by placing colored objects inside. Sort the cubes according to color. For extra fun, use creatively shaped ice cube trays and sort according to shape.
  1. Box balance game. Tape five to six boxes of varying sizes together loosely. Make sure they are big enough for your child to get his or her foot into. Line the bottom of each box with a piece of colored construction paper that corresponds with a colored dice or a color on the “Twister” spin board. Roll or spin and have your child move his or her foot move to the box identified. has a great demonstration of this video HERE.
  1. Texture Balls. Collect balls of varying sizes and weights. Decorate them with craft materials such as buttons, pipe cleaners, glitter, yarn, gems, or whatever you have. Use them as a conversation piece to compare properties, describe their location using prepositions, or provide simple to complex instructions to find a hidden ball.

Let your imagination run wild. Create more engaging and stimulating activities by deliberately pairing at least two sensory systems in one activity.

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