Our five senses of touch, smell, taste, sight, and sound are important learning tools for everyone, and all children learn better by playing games using sensory toys. This is especially important for children with special needs like autism. The more they use their senses, the easier it becomes to develop them and learn by using them. Thus it becomes more apparent how sensory toys help children with special needs.
Benefits Of Sensory Toys And Learning
You probably remember the first time you touched shaving cream or maple syrup and how they felt. One was light, the other heavy, one immediately came off your fingers and the other stuck on them. This is how our senses can help children remember how something felt and learn something new.
Sensory Toys Help Build Language And Vocabulary
When a child describes how a particular activity feels, what he sees or hears, it can enhance his or her understanding of words and build vocabulary.
Sensory Toys Promote Social Interaction
Playing and sharing helps children to engage with each other and develop social skills like planning and negotiating. Even if they are with children of a different level, it can entice them to come closer to investigate.
In addition, sensory toys help children with special needs in the following ways:
- Helps them develop gross motor skills like brushing their teeth or zipping their jacket
- Helps them grasp things with less fear and play more naturally
- Helps children to relax, stay calm, and focus on a particular event or situation
- Helps enhance coordination
Examples of Sensory Play
Sensory play is an activity that stimulates the child’s senses.
For A Child Who Is Visually Impaired or Blind
Have them touch and feel different types of surfaces: sandpaper, paper with a texture, corrugated, or silky smooth. You could also have them color with crayons on each type of surface.
For A Child Who Is Hearing Impaired Or Deaf
They may not be able to hear music clearly, but they should be able to “feel” the drum beat and other instruments and then tap to the sound.
To Help Them Learn Smell, Touch, And Sight
Get some playdough and separate into small pieces and place in separate containers. Mix in different ingredients to create smells and colors. Scented extracts like cinnamon, lemon, or vanilla are good suggestions to start. Add in some small beads to enhance touch, and/or also add food coloring to enhance the look.
Contact TLC Pediatric Therapies at (407) 905-9300 for more ideas about sensory play at home or toys for children with special needs.