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Special Needs

Sensory Needs

A child with sensory needs may prefer some kinds of sensations and strongly dislike other sensations. A child may love the sensation of rocking, for example, and may dislike the sensation of loose cotton on her fingers. To address complex sensory needs, look for specialized care.

If your child has sensory needs, she may enjoy “people games.” These games are played with people, not toys. People games are especially good for children with ASD, who learn best through repetition and structure. In fact, people games are great fun for most children!

Child’s Sensory Preference

People Game

Running Have chases or races. Try Red Light, Green Light, where you run or walk toward a finish line when the child says, “Green light,” and stop suddenly when she says, “Red light.”
Rocking back and forth Sing Row, Row, Row Your Boat, while sitting across from your child on the floor, holding hands as you rock back and forth.
Looking at his fingers Play finger games such as This Little Piggy (played on fingers instead of toes) or Where is Thumbkin? Many other examples can be found online by searching for “fingerplays.”
Spinning Walk in a circle while singing Ring Around the Rosie or spin your child in a revolving office chair.
Deep pressure or strong hugs Roll your child up in a blanket, then unroll him. (You can pretend he is a caterpillar going into his cocoon and then hatching as a beautiful butterfly!) Play chase, and when you catch him, give him a strong hug. He may also enjoy an adaptation of Peek-a-Boo, where you hide him under a pile of pillows and then uncover him.
Jumping Turn jumping into a people game by holding his hands while he jumps on a trampoline or on the bed. You can also sing Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed while your child jumps.
Swinging back and forth Have your child lie in a blanket, while two adults hold the ends of the blanket, swinging it back and forth.
Feeling certain fabric/textures If your child enjoys soft fabrics, play Peek-a-Boo with a soft blanket or cloth, or swing him in a soft blanket.
Avoids certain movements and prefers slower, quieter activities Try finger games like Thumbkin, Round the Garden, or Pat-a-Cake, which can be done slowly and quietly while sitting.


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