This page is designed to answer the following questions:
- 2.5. Give examples of ways to increase sensory stimulation. (Level 2 Certificate in Understanding Autism, Sensory processing, perception and cognition in individuals with autism)
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Increasing sensory stimulation for individuals with autism, particularly those who are hyposensitive or under-responsive to sensory input, can be beneficial for enhancing sensory processing, motor skills, and overall engagement with the environment. Here are several ways to provide increased sensory stimulation:
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Engaging in tactile activities can significantly help individuals who seek more sensory input. Activities like playing with textured materials (e.g., sand, playdough, rice, beans), using sensory bins, or arts and crafts with different fabrics and papers can provide varied tactile experiences. Additionally, therapeutic brushes or massage can be used for those who respond positively to touch.
Vestibular stimulation involves activities that provide movement and balance input, which is crucial for individuals who need more sensory stimulation in this area. Swinging, spinning, and rocking are common vestibular activities. Equipment like therapy swings, trampolines, or balance boards can be used to provide controlled and enjoyable vestibular experiences.
Proprioceptive input, which involves the sensation of joint and muscle movements, is often sought after by individuals with sensory processing differences. Activities like jumping, pushing, pulling, lifting heavy objects, or participating in sports can provide this kind of input. Activities such as yoga, climbing, or playing with resistance materials like therapy bands are also effective.
For those who benefit from increased auditory input, activities involving music, rhythmic sounds, or various sound toys can be stimulating. Playing musical instruments, listening to different genres of music, or using apps that create various sounds can be tailored to individual preferences and tolerances. Listening to loud music through headphones can be very calming for some individuals.
Enhancing visual input can involve the use of bright colors, lights, and visually engaging materials. Light tables, lava lamps, or projectors that display moving patterns or scenes can be particularly engaging. Puzzles, video games, and visually stimulating apps are also useful tools for visual stimulation.
Olfactory and Gustatory Stimulation
Introducing varied smells and tastes can provide essential stimulation for those who are under-responsive in these areas. Cooking activities, scent jars, and taste tests with different flavors and textures can offer a range of olfactory and gustatory experiences. This can also be an opportunity to explore new foods and develop healthy eating habits.
Creating an environment that has more sensory-rich elements can also be helpful. This might include having a room with varied sensory toys and materials, using dynamic lighting, or setting up spaces specifically for movement and exploration.
In implementing these strategies, it’s important to closely observe and respect the individual’s responses and preferences. Some individuals may have specific sensitivities or preferences even within their overall need for increased stimulation. The key is to provide sensory experiences in a way that is enjoyable, safe, and tailored to the individual’s unique sensory profile.