Are you looking for some fun holiday crafts for children with autism? Then these sensory activities might be great ways to engage them during the holidays. They also provide opportunities for social interaction and can help ease sensory overload symptoms.
Children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) often struggle with sensory issues such as hyperactivity or anxiety. This makes it challenging for them to participate in typical group activities.
This article contains five simple craft ideas that will engage kids with ASD and teach them new skills.
Sensory challenges for children with autism
Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by deficits in communication, social interactions, and repetitive behaviors. Many people with autism have difficulty processing information through their senses. For example, they may not be able to tell if something is hot or cold, wet or dry, loud or soft.
These sensory difficulties can make it difficult for children on the autism spectrum to learn from traditional classroom experiences. In fact, many of these children avoid school because of the overwhelming sensory stimuli.
However, there are things teachers can do to help children with autism overcome sensory challenges. For instance, they can use visual schedules to help students understand what’s going on around them. Teachers can also create environments where students feel safe and secure.
In addition, there are plenty of sensory activities that can help children with autism become more comfortable in their skin and learn to cope with sensory stimuli more efficiently.
During the winter break, there are plenty of potential sensory triggers that can overwhelm children with autism.
Potential sensory triggers during Christmas time
The following list includes common sensory triggers that occur during the winter holiday season:
- Noise and crowded places - these are very common triggers that can cause stress and anxiety for children with autism. Crowded shopping malls, busy streets, and noisy parties are all examples of places where children with autism might experience sensory overload.
- Food smells and tastes - Christmas is very much about traditional foods, and this can be another common trigger for children with autism. The smell of food, the sight of food, and even the sound of food being prepared can be overwhelming for children who have trouble processing smells and tastes.
- Decorations and lights shining - Decorations and lights can be very distracting for children with autism. Some individuals find bright lights and flashing lights extremely stressful. Others may prefer softer lighting.
- Christmas carols - Holiday songs can be very soothing for most people, but they can be particularly problematic for those with autism. Music can be too loud, too fast, or too slow for children with autism.
- Present giving and opening - Presents can be an exciting part of the holidays, but for some children with autism, the anticipation of receiving gifts can be overwhelming. They may need extra support when opening gifts.
To help ease sensory overload and better cope with the symptoms associated with sensory overwhelm, here are five sensory Christmas crafts.
You can make these snowflake decorations using a variety of materials, including paper, construction paper, glitter glue, pipe cleaners, and even felt.
You’ll need scissors, tape, and a pair of tweezers. Cut out circles from construction paper. Glue one circle on top of another until you have a large snowflake shape. Cut out smaller shapes from the center of each circle. Use your fingers to press the small pieces into place. Add more layers if necessary. Use a piece of tape to secure the snowflake together. Let dry completely before hanging.
2. Tactile Christmas Tree
Crafting a tactile Christmas tree out of foam sheets can be very good for sensory stimulation if your child likes the feel of foam sheets. This sensory-friendly Christmas activity will not only provide a calming experience but will also help your child practice their fine motor skills. Also, by doing this crafting activity together, you'll be able to bond over something special.
Start by cutting the foam into a triangle shape and punching a hole at the top. Then you can add ornaments of different shapes and colors. Let your child explore and use their imagination to do this project. It will help them play with color recognition and possibly learn more about Christmas.
3. Christmas Slime Jars or Fluffy Santa
Slime is known to be a very good sensory toy for neurodivergent kids, as it benefits sensory processing. It can help relieve anxiety and sensory overload. To create slime jars, start by mixing 1 cup of baking soda and 2 cups of water. Once mixed, pour the mixture into a bowl. Add food coloring to the mixture and stir well. Add three tablespoons of cornstarch to the mixture and mix well. Pour the mixture into a container and let sit overnight. The next day, remove the slime jar from the container and cut off the lid.
If you don't want to do it at home, you can also buy the slime in any flavor that your child prefers and then decorate the jar.
4. Gingerbread Playdough
For this one, you'll need a cookie cutter, gingerbread men cookies, and play dough. Start by making gingerbread men cookies. Roll out the dough and cut out the body parts. Make sure to leave room between the legs so they can fit inside the cookie cutter. Then you can let your kids decorate in the way they wish and forget about the rules.
Kids love to play with homemade playdough as it's naturally scented and provides a pleasurable sensory experience that also exercises motor skills.
5. Fake snow
This is an easy and fun activity. You'll only need cornflower and conditioner to create fake snow and maybe a puffy-painted snowman! Mix some cornflower and conditioner and apply them to a white sheet of paper. Wait for it to dry, and then paint the snowman.
Although the winter holidays may be difficult for kids with autism, there are ways to make these seasons fun and memorable. By incorporating sensory activities like the ones mentioned above, you'll be helping your child enjoy the holiday season while still providing them with a relaxing and soothing environment.
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