Everything You Need to Know about Sensory Crash Pads for Autism

By sandra.caplesc…, 20 April, 2022
Girls jumping on a trampoline.

When you're with your autistic child at the playground, crash or bang are familiar sounds. Even if your child falls, they fall on soft sand or padded grass. Unless your child is falling from a tall building, you stay calm, knowing that the risk of them getting hurt is minimal. They'll bounce back in a second and continue playing as if nothing happened.

So, then, why should you use a crash pad for your child to fall into?

What Are Crash Pads?

Crash pads are a vital tool for children with a sensory processing disorder or those who are sensitive to touch, texture, or loud noises. If your little one often runs into furniture, people, or walls, crash pads can improve attention, create body awareness, and calm aggression. Many centers have crash pads to provide sensory input in a secure and safe environment.

In simple terms, crash pads are amped-up bean bag pads that provide deep pressure stimulation. It's large, about four feet in diameter, and filled with furniture-grade foam. Your autistic child can crash, smash, bash, and jump on this pad as much as he wants.

What Are the Benefits?

You might wonder what the advantages of a crash pad are. For autistic children, having a crash pad at home has more benefits than you might realize. A crash pad can improve your child's gross motor skills and planning. By jumping into the crash pad, children with autism receive a large amount of sensory support that provides deep pressure on the leg and knee muscles, good for muscle tone and core strength. It develops coordination and fine motor skills in a non-threatening way.

In addition, when kids fall into the crash pad, the fabric helps strengthen the tactile senses and their coordination and balance in the vestibular system. The vestibular input can help meet an autistic child's needs, such as swaying, bouncing, swinging, and rocking. Their proprioceptive input is also stimulated by crashing into the pad.

Many occupational therapists will tell you that the eight senses are vital in self-regulation and the development of an autistic child. Children get the proprioceptive input they need from jumping, crashing, pulling, and lifting. This sense will give our bodies a better understanding of where we are in space, improving body awareness skills and coordination. Furthermore, the proprioceptive input contributes to self-regulation.

How to Craft a DIY Crash Pad

You need to take a bunch of soft materials and some items you can stuff inside:

  • Duvet covers
  • Pillows
  • Large comforters or blankets
  • Stuffed animals
  • Bean bag chairs
  • Foam scraps

After you've gathered these items, you need to unzip the cover and stuff it with all the fluffy things you can find in your house. Sew the open side together then you can stuff the crash pad into another duvet.

It’s as easy as one, two, three to make a crash pad!

Activities You Can Try

No matter what you do, a crash pad is a fun activity for children with autism. They are a safe landing zone for all children who crave sensory stimulation. It lets the child use his imagination and be creative. Crash pad activities can help calm autistic children, especially if they suffer from anxiety. It will also help the child concentrate in school.

Before we get started, it's important to put the crash pad in a clear space and always have adult supervision.

With that being said, here are some activity ideas you can try:

  • Hide toys or objects under the crash pad, so the little one has to lift the crash pad
  • Try to crawl underneath it
  • Take turns jumping onto the crash pad
  • Lay on it and feel yourself sinking into it
  • Take a nap
  • Watch a movie on it
  • Fall into it stiffly, like a cut tree
  • Catch a ball and then fall into a crash pad
  • Turn down the lights and put a projector on the walls
  • Pretend you’re an animal and crash into the pad
  • Roll onto it
  • Push and pull the crash pad around the house

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Does Heavy Work Help Children with Autism?

Heavy work means any activity that pushes or pulls against the body. Children with autism need to do heavy work because it helps them with sensory processing issues. It makes them feel centered.

Heavy work engages the proprioceptive input, meaning body awareness. It helps children with autism spectrum disorder improve attention, calms them, helps with aggression, and tires them out.

You can check out this website for crash pads to satisfy your child's sensory needs. Or, if you are looking for the best options for 2022, then take a look at this list.

Here are some excellent crash pads you can buy:

Crash Pad Can You Use a Mattress as a Crash Pad?

It's important to remember that a foam mattress doesn't make a good crash pad since it is from a softer foam.

What Kind of Foam Is In a Crash Pad?

The most popular foam material for crash pads is polyethylene foam because it's resilient and shock absorbing. It can easily handle the weight of a climber without a jarring impact. This happens because it spreads the impact force through the material, which makes the fabric last longer.

The pad is usually filled with foam blocks to form a great landing zone for jumping. The crash pad slowly releases air upon impact as the child jumps on it. Usually, the inner cover can be wiped clean easily, and it comes with a zipper-lock that won't pop out during use.

How Long Does a Crash Pad Last?

Crash pads are durable. Its quality will become apparent over time, after many, MANY days of jumping, rolling, or crashing. The cover and carrying system, for example, should be able to withstand all the strain.

How Are Children with Autism Using the Crash Pad?

Crash pads are versatile tools that your kid can use in many creative ways. Since kids with sensory processing disorders thrive on sensory input, they can leap and crash on pads to satisfy their needs.