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Do you need indoor sensory activities?
Meeting your child’s sensory needs is challenging year-round, but often it is even more difficult in the winter months. In some parts of the country, freezing temperatures and harsh weather conditions make it difficult to get to favorite spots, or even to just get outside for a walk. Even if temperatures don’t drop precipitously, winter still means shorter days, and often bouts of rain that make summer favorites – like parks, pools, and beaches – less accessible.
Before you rip your hair out, here are some indoor sensory activities to help meet your child’s needs – without leaving the house:
Take a Bath:
We jokingly call our bathtub our “indoor swimming pool,” because from about October through April we often use it just like we would a pool. Mr. Diggy is still just able to lie down in our tub, and get plenty of all-over water input. Sometimes there are toys, sometimes there are bubbles, and sometimes it’s just him and the water. (If you have a splasher – like we do – you may want to lay some old towels over the floor to make for easier clean up.
Most families relegate bubbles to outside – for good reason – the bubble solution can leave a residue all over your house. I’m not saying I would recommend spraying this solution all over your dining room table or living room rug, but we definitely use this inside in either the kitchen or playroom. (It can leave a minor white residue – but since that’s just the baking soda, I tell myself it’s “deep cleaning” as I wipe it off.) No matter what the weather is outside, the magic of bubbles inside can provide several uninterrupted minutes of entertainment and sensory input.
Build a Pillow Fort:
If you are like most autism families, you probably gave up long ago on a pristine living room (or fully matched dishes, or a fire in your hearth, or candles on the dinner table – shall I go on?). So since you’re not so fussy anymore, then put those cushions to good use and build something fun. A few big couch cushions are a great start. Pro tip: use a queen-or king-sized bed sheet to stretch across as a “roof” – it will be lighter-weight than a blanket.
Play – or Make some Music:
Music can be a positive element in your home regardless of the age or diagnosis of your child, or the season of the year. (We have definitely taken our Google Home Mini outside and plugged it in on the deck for some easy summer tunes as well.) If you have a smart home device, many can play nearly any song you like, as fast as you can ask for it. You can also likely play music from your TV, your computer and/or your phone.
But don’t overlook the making music part. If you have an old piano or keyboard, then that is certainly an obvious choice, but you don’t need instruments to make music. A cylindrical container – such as one used for oatmeal – can be a drum. Two blocks of wood can be tapped together. Or grab some bells and thread a pipe cleaner through the loops.
Over the years, we have grown quite a collection – including a variety of drums, xylophones and other percussion instruments (our kid’s guitar did not last so long – the strings were just two easy a target!). And don’t skip the metal harmonica as a possible instrument as well – easier to manage than a recorder, and a bit quieter than the slew of percussion options.
What are your family’s favorite indoor sensory activities? Comment below. Need some #autismmom down time? Here are some ideas to take time out for yourself.