Home » Sensory Solutions » 10 Sensory Table Ideas For Autistic Children

10 Sensory Table Ideas For Autistic Children

June 22, 2023

10 Sensory Table Ideas For Autistic Children https://www.autismparentingmagazine.com/sensory-table-ideas/

If you’re a parent of a child on the autism spectrum, it can sometimes be challenging to develop a fun way for them to play. Children with autism are often not intrigued by the same types of play that other kids love. Many children will need some ideas for sensory play that will keep them engaged. That’s where a sensory table can significantly help your children.

There are too many types of sensory tables to list them all, but several can lead to fun not just for the children on the spectrum but for the entire family. Depending on the sensory table, it can lead to increased play time and improvements in social skills. Let’s look at a few sensory table ideas that can make playtime more fun for your child on the spectrum.

How can a sensory table help your child on the spectrum?

  1. Provides sensory input
  2. Encourages engagement with others
  3. Increase perception
  4. Improve language development
  5. Improve fine motor skills
  6. Provide calming influence

Here are the ten table ideas: 

  1. Water Table

My younger son, Joey, loves this table the most. Joey loves the water. He loves swimming, the beach, and showers, so we got him a water table to help generate his interest in play. Our water table has a crank that allows him to fill cups with water and an obstacle course for balls to work their way through to the water below.

Pros:

  • Easy to find and fill with water
  • Improves sensory play
  • Encourages playing alongside others

Cons:

  • The child must be watched extra closely
  • The child will probably need a change of clothes after
  • Potential for splashing

The water table has improved Joey’s relationship with his brother, Jeremy. Jeremy has often said he wants to play with his little brother like his friends can do with their siblings. However, Joey has never been one for playing with others. Both of them can play with the water table at the same time. While they aren’t exactly doing the same thing, it has allowed for parallel play, and Jeremy has expressed that he feels like he gets to play with his brother.

  1. Sand Table

Like the water table, the sand table is one of the most accessible sensory tables to find and can improve sensory play. Sand appeals to the senses differently but can still go a long way in encouraging engagement with siblings.

Pros:

  • Easy to find and fill
  • Encourages playing alongside others

Cons:

  • Can be messy
  • Harder to clean than water

This is another table we have for Joey. He loves playing in the sand almost as much as in water. He will run his toy cars through the sand. He plays in the sandbox at school, so getting him a sand table made sense for the home. Jeremy is more keen on playing with sand than with water. However, he will still play with Joey in sandy situations, again fostering a healthier sibling relationship between my boys.

  1. Fresh Herb Table

This may be one of the more out-there ideas for some people, but it’s a great way to foster a love of botany in young children. The fresh herb table is more than just a play table; it can also be educational about nature.

Pros:

  • Encourages scientific discovery
  • Fosters a love of nature

Cons:

  • Requires more knowledge of nature for adults
  • Requires supervision so children don’t eat the wrong plants
  1. Moon Dough Table

The moon dough table is one of the better ideas for creating a DIY sensory table. This one needs a table and two ingredients: flour and baby oil. It will create something similar to sand. Even though the name makes it seem like a choice for a “hippie,” it can be great for kids interested in science.

Pros:

  • Easy to make
  • Few ingredients
  • Educational

Cons:

  • It can be messy
  1. Mud and Bugs Table

I’m certain by the name that this will freak some people out, but it doesn’t have to be real mud and bugs. You can make this table yourself and use toy bugs and ingredients, including food coloring, to make edible mud, especially if your child is inclined to stick things in his or her mouth. Still, it’s another DIY sensory table that encourages scientific discovery.

Pros:

  • Easy to make
  • Educational

Cons:

  • Can be gross
  • It can get messy

Special Offer

Don't miss out on our special offer.
Click here to find out more

  1. Spell My Name Table

Admittedly, this one may be harder to work with if your child is nonverbal, but the spell my sensory name table can help some kids start articulating sounds. The best way to make this work is to get letter sensory materials or magnets and put them in sensory bins. Then, the child can use the letters to spell their names, and if you are working with them, you can help them try to make out the sounds of the letters.

Pros:

  • Easy to make
  • Educational
  • Can increase verbalization

Cons:

  • It can be disheartening with nonverbal children
  1. Counting table

Like how the spell my name table encourages learning letters, the counting table enables learning numbers. Many materials are the same: sensory bins and sensory materials. It can go a long way on the mathematical path.

Pros:

  • Easy to make
  • Educational
  • Can increase verbalization

Cons:

  • It can be disheartening with nonverbal children
  1. LEGO Building Table

LEGOs are often one of a child’s favorite sensory table tools. They can encourage parallel play as well as foster a love for engineering. Plus, they come in different sizes, so you can get the bigger LEGOs at first so your child doesn’t swallow them and get the smaller toys as they grow and become less likely to put the blocks in their mouths.

Pros:

  • Educational
  • Foster’s love of science
  • LEGOs are easy to find

Cons:

  • Pieces are easy to lose
  • LEGOs hurt when you step on them
  • Choking hazard
  1. Landscape Tables

This sensory table encourages children to design their landscape. If they like the ocean, get some water beads and use them. If they want snow, you can use marbles to make it look like the Arctic. It can be used to teach children about different climates.

Pros:

  • Educational
  • Informative

Cons:

  • Pieces are easy to lose
  1. Book Table

Does your child love books? Do they love to read or love having you read to them? A sensory book table can go a long way to continue fostering that love of reading. It works similarly to a bookcase, but if you have other sensory tables, having a book table can connect the idea of play and read in their heads.

Pros:

  • Educational
  • Encourages reading

Cons:

  • None

Summary

Sensory tables go a long way when it comes to encouraging children. They can be educational and entertaining. Depending on how you intend to use, they may require water beads, food coloring, an ice cube tray, shaving creams, plastic toys, baking soda, or some other sensory materials. Many of these can be found at local stores like Dollar Tree and don’t cost that much.

As parents, we all want our kids to be able to play and have fun, but it can be challenging to know what makes our kids happy. A sensory table could be just what they need.

Support Autism Parenting Magazine

We hope you enjoyed this article. In order to support us to create more helpful information like this, please consider purchasing a subscription to Autism Parenting Magazine.

Download our FREE guide on the best Autism Resources for Parents

Related Articles

Autism Parenting Magazine