15 Sensory Tips And Tricks for Autism
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I couldn’t tell you how many hours my son has been in therapy.
We started outpatient occupational therapy, speech therapy, and physical therapy a month before his official “nonverbal autism” diagnosis.
After Levi’s diagnosis, we were offered Early Intervention services through the state of Pennsylvania and I jumped on board. I put Levi in every single therapy he qualified for.
Our therapy schedule looked like this for the first six months:
Monday: Outpatient therapy: speech, physical, occupational
Tuesday: Early Intervention Speech therapy
Wednesday: Outpatient therapy: speech, physical, occupational
Early Intervention physical therapy
Thursday: Early Intervention occupational therapy
Friday: Early Intervention special instructor
The following tips and tricks are things that I learned from my son’s therapists that have helped us in big ways. I, myself, and NOT a therapist so this is not medical advice.
Every person experiences autism differently so these might not work for everyone but I’m sharing in hopes that these can help others in the way they have helped us.
1. A tablet can help develop fine motor skills.
My son couldn’t and wouldn’t point to anything he wanted. If he wants snacks, he grabs me by the hand and leads me into the kitchen.
I let him use my Amazon Fire Tablet and within a week, he was able to use his finger to point and move around the screen. The tablet really helped develop his fine motor skills. I prefer the Fire Tablet over an iPad just because if the Fire breaks, it’s not going to cost me an arm and a leg to replace it.
The Fire tablet has a kid’s interface that is easy to navigate. It allows me to add games and videos from Amazon any time I want. I would definitely suggest getting a case like this one to protect it.
2. Listening therapy can help with self-regulation, attention, and coordination.
Starting listening therapy is something you should discuss with your therapist before starting.
My little one has auditory sensory issues. He plugs his ears when we go into stores with high ceilings like Walmart or Sam’s Club.
The theory behind listening therapy is that the sounds that are played have an effect on the inner-ear which is help provide sensory input and even help with coordination.
3. Applying deep pressure can have a calming effect and reduce anxiety
Deep pressure is big in our house. My little one is
It’s a win-win for us and an easy, calm way to change the energy when things start to get crazy around the house.
4. Brushing Therapy can decrease fear or discomfort of being touched.
Brushing therapy is also something that should be discussed with your therapist before starting.
We do brushing therapy three times a day in conjunction with joint compressions. It provides over sensory input and more.
My little one is a head-banger. It’s one of my least favorite parts of autism. Brushing therapy with the joint compressions has helped my son bang his
5. A weighted blanket can help calm a meltdown
I could live without a lot of things but our weighted blanket isn’t one of them. That weighted blanket has calmed many meltdowns. I keep it close to the couch, always within reach.
Our weighted blanket also helps Levi settle down to go to bed and also helps him stay asleep.
Weighted Comforts is an amazing company that makes top-notch weighted blankets with Sew For Hope– a non-profit organization that provides sewing machines and sewing classes for international refugees that have been resettled in Middle Tennessee. Using the links provided you can get a weighted blanket for $30 OFF that also serves a great cause.
6. Playing in tight spaces is a great place to get proprioceptive sensory input
Proprioceptive sense has to do with position and body movement.
My little one LOVE playing in small spaces. The idea is behind giving proprioceptive input is very similar to deep pressure exercises as noted above. It helps my little one calm down by being in small space.
We make a lot of blanket forts and blanket roll-ups in our house.
7. Sour food can help reduce biting and spitting by providing oral sensory input
I’ve got a biter and a spitter. The spitting is a more recent thing. Sour foods like candy, raspberries,
8. Noise-canceling headphones are a great way to reduce overstimulation
I see a lot of ASD kiddos with noise-canceling headphones on but mine HATES things on his head. How I was able to snap this picture- I’ll never know. We were just having a really good day that day.
If my son could handle the headphones on his head, I know he would greatly benefit from wearing them. Like I mentioned above, Levi has auditory sensory issues but his sensory issues with stuff touching his head out-weighs the likelihood that this is an option for us. I can barely wash the kid’s hair!
9. Blanket rollups are a fun way to provide sensory input
Blanket rollups are a fun game. I roll him up like a taquito in a blanket and then I pull the blanket while he rolls out. It’s a lot of fun and provides great proprioceptive sensory input.
It’s a great game to play during a transitional time although transitioning out of the game can be difficult. My little one loves this game so much and I can only do it so many times before I get tired. (I need to get in better shape!)
10. A Nuk brush can help with texture sensitivity
When sour foods aren’t cutting it, our Nuk brush saves the day! It provides oral stimulation and we need a lot of oral stimulation in our house with all the spitting and biting that goes on.
11. Sensory bottles can provide a great calming visual stimulation
Sensory bottles are a super fun craft to make. Levi is entranced when watching all the glitter and toys float around. It provides visual sensory input and has a calm effect.
I would advise that your child be very watched carefully when using these. If your child is anything like mine, he’ll throw it and break it– which is a super awesome mess to clean up for mom.
12. A sensory corner is a great addition to any autism home
My cousin made that board all by herself. Go on Pinterest and look up different ways to make them. It has click-lights,
Although it’s hard to see, I also have a children’s bed tent cover that helps provide a more in-closed space. I find that the closed-in space provides a great place for him to calm down and relax.
13. Popsicles can be a great way to provide oral stimulation
Same as the sour food and Nuk brush, cold foods such as a popsicle can be a great way to provide oral sensory input.
I know a lot of these tips so far have a lot to do with foods and oral stimulation. That’s a huge thing in our house. My little boy eats dirt and overstuffs his mouth with food. He also bites and spits. We need a lot of oral stimulation help in our house!
14. Using your hands to block peripherals can be a great way to practice eye contact
Eye contact is a sweet gift I don’t get much of so when something as small as this helps, I’m going to do it.
15. A visual schedule can help with transitional anxiety
I was told by many therapists that a schedule would be really helpful for Levi. The schedule I made, not so helpful. I made it WAY too complicated for my four-year-old.
Instead of trying to schedule the whole day, I should have just done three things. What I mean by that is I would just want a visual schedule of “What we just did”, “What we’re doing now”, and “What we’re doing next”. I’m in the process of making another one with my sweet laminator.
These tips and tricks are very personal to our autism home. Every person experiences autism different so some of these might work for your sensory home and others may not.
I plan on making many, many more of these tips to include things that have helped others– not just us. Please comment below any autism tips and tricks that have
Hey, I'm Nicole
I'M A SINGLE MOM OF A LITTLE BOY WITH AUTISM. I SHARE WHAT I'VE LEARNED ABOUT RAISING A SPECIAL CHILD WITH TIPS FOR SELF CARE AND PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT