Therapy Thursday: Sensory Play
Hey everybody, my name is Emily Gantt. I am the secretary of Specially Gifted Foundation and a full-time speech-language pathologist. Today is my first Therapy Thursday where I provide you with tips and tricks on how to help promote your child’s language, learning, and other tasks that might prove helpful for you and your child.
What is Sensory Play?
For today’s topic, I will be discussing sensory play– what it is and how to incorporate it to positively impact your child’s learning and development. As we know, we have five senses: vision, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. When we are engaged in sensory play, we are utilizing items and play techniques that appeal to the senses. If your child has never been engaged in sensory play, I would begin with a variety of toys and other interesting items and experiment to see what most appeals to them. Try out a bunch of different toys or household items and make note of what they like versus what they don’t like.
In sensory seeking, the child may get very fixated on an object or appear generally excited as it engages one or more of their senses. Items that generate this type of response from your child go on the “like” list. On the other hand is sensory avoidance, where the child might appear frightened or agitated by an object. Items that induce this type of response belong on the “dislike” list. You can utilize those notes to gauge what they’re interested in and what motivates them, setting you and your child up for increased sensory play success.
When discovering the items that are of interest to the child, notice what sense the item is mostly engaging. Does it light up? Maybe it’s a vision-based toy. Is it squishy and stretchy? Maybe it’s appealing to their sense of touch. Does it make a squeaking noise? It is likely appealing to their sense of hearing.
Making these observations about what items your child enjoys and what sense or senses that item engages are a great first step in utilizing sensory play to benefit your child. Then, begin to incorporate items from the list of things they enjoy into playtime as fun tools for learning!
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