Sensory exploration is a child’s way of examining, discovering, categorizing and making sense of the world around them. It is beneficial to provide children with opportunities for sensory play.
Why is sensory integration important?
A new born is able to see, hear and sense their body but is unable to organise these senses well; therefore this information means very little. They are unable to judge distances or feel the shape of one object versus another. As the child is exposed to various sensory inputs, they gradually learn to organise them within their brain and are able to give meaning to them. They become better able to focus in on one sensation and as a result performance improves. Their movement changes from being jerky and clumsy, to more refined and they are able to manage multiple amounts of sensory input at one time. By organising sensations the child is able to modulate their response and as a result they seem to be more connected with the world and in control of their emotions.
Benefits of sensory play:
- Sensory play helps children to learn important sensory attributes like hot, cold, sticky, dry, etc.
- It helps in developing and enhancing memory functions.
- Builds nerve connections within the developing brain’s neural pathways. This in turn, triggers a child’s inclination and ability in completing more complex learning tasks.
- Sensory play supports language development, cognitive growth, motor skills, problem-solving skills, and social interaction.
- Sensory play is great for calming an anxious or hyperactive child.
- It helps a child to be more creative and imaginative.
What activities can help improve sensory processing/motor integration skills?
- An individually tailored range of sensory based activities performed regularly to provide sensory feedback to child & enable efficient sensory regulation. Below are the activities you can plan:
- Physical obstacle courses
- Wheelbarrow walking
- Animal walks
- Swings (forward and back, side to side, rotary)
- Rough and tumble play/squishing or sandwiching with pillows or balls
- Wearing a heavy backpack for play/walking
- Weighted items (wheat bag on lap while sitting or heavy blanket for sleep)
- Chewy toys
2. Visual schedules enable a child to see and understand what is going to happen next. Schedules also help people to organise themselves and to plan ahead.
3. Visual Timers help with transitions as they tell the child how long they need to perform an activity for. Timers can allow us to pre-warn the child when a fun task is coming to an end.