Sensory play includes any activity that stimulates your young child’s senses: touch, smell, taste, sight and hearing. Sensory activities and sensory tables facilitate exploration and naturally encourage children to use scientific processes while they play, create, investigate and explore. Spending time stimulating their senses helps children develop cognitively, linguistically, socially and emotionally, physically and creatively.
Sensory play for children with ASD can also aid the development of senses, and understanding and tolerance of different textures. I often work with children who have food aversions , or fear of touching certain textures and the introduction of sensory play can help the child learn and tolerate different materials. For example a child who will not touch anything water based and will only eat 'dry food' can learn to accept different textures by playing with simple 'gloop' (flour and water mixed). A child who will only eat 'orange' food can learn to explore different colours with messy paint play or Glitter Slime. Simple messy food play can also aid a child to explore new foods in a fun environment.
I often use Sensory activities such as bubbles and balloons to work on a child's eye contact and requesting skills either verbally or non verbally. For example when blowing bubbles wait for a non verbal child to make eye contact before blowing the wand again, or for a verbal child wait for the request for 'more'. Using simple signs during the activities aids communication ; 'more' 'please' 'finished'.
Of course sensory play is not just for children with ASD; all children can enjoy learning through fun messy and explorative play! Below I have linked a blog I am in love with when it comes to messy play ideas.