Sensory play is important for all children—not just individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Sensory play helps build language skills as well as fine motor and gross motor skills. Children with ASD often experience an inability to respond “appropriately” to sensory input, which is why they tend to have challenging behaviors or obsessions (i.e. arm flapping, avoiding eye contact, etc). Furthermore, children with ASD can have problems with social skills and speech and language skills. Most treatment options for children with ASD or with sensory dysfunction include sensory integration.
There are countless at-home speech therapy techniques that you can do with your child to encourage his progress. You may have already invested in educational toys and games to serve as tools for speech therapy lessons, such as flashcards for target sounds or Speech Buddies for articulation practice. As well, consider the use of sensory toys for children.
As your baby grows, he learns about the world around him with various senses. Using a multisensory approach to speech therapy can not only improve knowledge retention, but it may also boost your child’s motivation, according to Tatyana Elleseff, M.A. CCC-SLP. Sensory toys for children may also be used as prompts to encourage vocalization. The child may be asked to describe the feel of a fuzzy tennis ball, for example, or the scent of a cookie. Consult your child’s speech-language pathologist (SLP) for advice on using a multisensory approach to at-home speech therapy techniques. This is particularly critical if your child has sensory processing disorder (SPD). This is a neurological disorder that disrupts the way in which a person processes information. Over-stimulating a child with SPD can result in an adverse reaction.