Why is play so important in early childhood development? Not only does play encourage creativity and imagination but it also facilitates language development, decision making abilities, social skills, fine and gross motor development and problem solving skills that help develop the physical, social and emotional well-being of children. For a child with disabilities, pretend play is even more crucial.
Sensory toys are not necessarily geared towards a specific age group but rather a developmental level and skill set. A child’s age should not determine which toys are appropriate. Older children with autism, for example, can derive great benefit from toys that are designed for a younger child, such as blocks or a ball. Sensory toys for autism education are particularly important.
Many children with autism have difficulty with various textures and toys like sand and water tables, textured balls and other tactile objects can help a child overcome their difficulties with texture and touch. They can help a child with autism learn to interact with the world around them. In addition, sensory toys can help a child focus and aid in cognitive processing. Studies have shown that children who play with sensory toys during lessons retain more information then when they do not. Also, using sensory aids like a wiggle seat can help students to focus.
Some other helpful hints for the classroom:
- Provide a fidget toy and/or wiggle seat, cushion or weighted stuffed animal during circle/seated work time.
- Have a child do something physical in the morning or before any long period of seated time. For example, jump on a trampoline, complete an obstacle course, crash into pillows, push or pull heavy objects or do jumping jacks.
- Position an easily distracted child away from doors, windows, fans, lights or anything that may be overly stimulating or noisy.
- Develop consistent routines and picture schedules to help children develop good habits. Children with disabilities often crave routines as it gives them a sense of control. Make sure to try and prepare kids for any changes in routine ahead of time.
- Once routines are established for a significant period of time, begin changing them slowly to help kids develop coping skills and build their tolerance to change.
- Always provide positive reinforcement.
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/7114506
By Allen Yesilevich
- Interrelated Health Issues Experienced By Children With Autism: Anxiety, GI Problems, Sensory Over-Responsivity (medicalnewstoday.com)
- Half Of Children With Autism Wander, Study Says (huffingtonpost.com)
- The Dream Of One-Stop Shopping, And So Much More (beyondautismawareness.wordpress.com)