Guest post: Sensory play
I'm Alice, and my son Jude has has microcephaly, global development delay and undiagnosed autism.
I'm a Montessori trained teacher so have a slight obsession with sensory play for young children. Same goes for disabled children; my son Jude, for example has heightened sensitivity and still learns a great deal through touch, smell, etc.
I decided a couple of months ago that I want to make Jude's bedroom into a little sensory heaven for him, but after researching all the bits and pieces I'd like, I've realised it's just all too expensive. But, there is a ray of light at the end of the tunnel: Family Fund! It’s a charity that gives disabled people and their families the opportunity of specifically focused grants.
I applied to them a few years ago and they gave me a grant towards a weekend away with the children. I've just filled in another application for sensory toys and activities. Fingers crossed they'll help me and we'll be able to do it; Jude would be so excited if we manage to transform his room. At the moment it's so boring for him. This is my inspirational picture:
In the meantime, I found a couple of websites that have great activities, suitable for disabled children.
I made an activity for my Tuesday Montessori class and let Jude play with it after school today. It's amazing how calm and content it always makes him, he totally goes into himself and you can see the concentration and inner harmony wash over him. Love it. Here he is...
It's just a tray of rice, a funnel, a spoon and one of those spaghetti strainer things. The sound it makes and the feel of the grains against your skin is all pretty lovely, so I can see why he likes it. Even Elsa wanted to play for a while but Jude wouldn't let her near it! Guess I'll have to make her one as well.
Anther activity Jude loves to play at home is anything to do with matching objects or cards together. I gave him a huge bowl of Lego a while ago with four A4 bits of coloured card that correlated to the Lego colours. I told him to match all the Lego to the corresponding card and he did it! He must have been working for about 20 minutes non-stop but he did it and when he showed me, he looked so proud.
You can also make very simple Montessori-inspired matching pairs activities. I made Jude something similar when he was a bit younger and he always enjoyed it. You can literally make matching pairs out of anything and obviously it can be as hard or as easy as you need.
I think this summer holiday I'm going to make a different activity for him every day. It'll be good to keep his brain active as when he's bored he becomes grumpy, annoying towards anyone in his path and subsequently hyper and really hard work!
Do you have any good examples of sensory activities you or your child enjoys?