Sensory boards for autism can be a key way to engage autistic children while meeting some of their sensory input needs and having fun. Sensory integration and having and fulfilling a sensory diet for a child diagnosed with autism can be quick and easy.
A sensory board is exactly what it sounds like, there is a board that has different items a child can interact with that include interactive elements for each of the five senses. Sensory play can include the senses while also incorporating fine motor activities to help build and strengthen fine motor skills, cognitive elements to help with cognitive development, and so much more.
There really isn’t a set way for sensory boards to be developed. Parents can purchase or make sensory boards. One of the benefits of making a board would be that the child could help pick out the components. They can also help create the board.
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How to make a sensory board for autism
The main part needed to create sensory boards would be a sturdy backboard. This could be a flat wood piece, part of the wall in the child’s room, a bulletin board, a thick foam board, etc. After the board has been chosen, parents and children can work together to pick what can go on the board.
The board could be themed or specific to needs, such as:
The board could also be based on a subject where the child can practice classroom skills, like colors and the alphabet.
After everything has been chosen, the parent can have the child help decide where to lay everything. Then they can glue or attach the parts to the board, and parents can decide the best way to place everything to make the interaction smooth.
If parents or caregivers are having a hard time with ideas, they can find inspiration on websites like Pinterest or Etsy. After that, there really is no limit as to the sensory board that parents can make with their children.
Where can parents find sensory boards to buy?
Some online retailers specify sensory play. Parents can talk to their child’s teacher, playgroup coordinator, doctor, practitioner, or other parents. They can also search online until they find something that their children will love and interact with.
Here are some things to look for when purchasing a sensory or busy board:
- keep age and skill level in mind (there are boards for toddlers and up)
- look for interaction (examples could be knobs that turn, buttons that click, different textures and colors, etc.)
- find quality pieces (the pieces that are interactive should be sturdy and not easy to break for safety and longevity purposes)
- ask yourself if the sensory board meets the criteria you were looking for (if it was for learning the alphabet and colors, building fine motor or cognitive skills, etc.)
- make sure it’s fun (if the parents don’t find it fun or don’t think their child will enjoy it, then it most likely will remain unused. So many boards are available at every stage and age that parents can find the right one for their child.)
Can a sensory board really help with a sensory diet?
A sensory diet is where parents, caregivers, and/or practitioners slowly introduce different sensory activities to children who:
- are sensory avoiders,
- don’t enjoy feeling different textures,
- are sensitive to different smells,
- usually prefer to stick with what they know.
These children could be provided opportunities to have sensory play to build their confidence with different sensory activities.
Providing sensory play opportunities in a safe environment can be a great educational and interactive way to meet sensory needs along the spectrum of needs. Sensory boards, sensory bins, outside exploration, sand and water tables, sensory toys, and more can provide the input these children crave.
These boards can be easy to assemble, and they can be so much fun and a long-lasting toy that not only brings joy but also provides opportunities to expand on skills, education, and different therapy settings.
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Q: Why are sensory boards important for autism?
A: Sensory boards are crucial for individuals with autism as they provide a structured and controlled environment for sensory exploration, helping regulate and integrate sensory stimuli. These boards can enhance sensory processing skills, improve focus, and contribute to overall well-being in individuals with autism.
Q: What should you put on a sensory board?
A: A sensory board should include a variety of textured materials, such as fabrics, sandpaper, and sponges, to engage different tactile sensations. Additionally, incorporating items with contrasting colors, shapes, and sounds, like bells or crinkly paper, can enhance the sensory experience.
Q: What is the difference between a busy board and a sensory board?
A: A busy board typically refers to a board with various tactile activities and objects designed to keep a child engaged and occupied, fostering fine motor skills. A sensory board is a broader term encompassing a variety of tactile elements, lights, sounds, and textures aimed at stimulating sensory exploration.