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Activities for Children with Sensory Processing Disorder

Activities for Children with Sensory Processing Disorder

Sensory experiences play a critical role in childhood. It offers a myriad of benefits that go beyond just simple amusement. From enhancing motor skills and cognitive function to developing language, social interaction, creativity, and emotional regulation – sensory play acts as the building blocks for sensory processing. However, for little children with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), these experiences can be both exciting and overwhelming.

What is Sensory Processing Disorder?

SPDs are neurodevelopmental conditions that inhibit the normal processing sensory stimuli. Simply put, the brain has difficulty receiving and responding to information that comes through the senses. SPD causes challenges with motor skills, emotions, behavior, and overall daily functioning. Sensory processing activities can help create a supportive environment for children with SPD, developing and improving their ability to regulate and navigate the world around them.

You can read more about SPD here and here.

At Plexus Bangalore and Hyderabad, we have state-of-the-art Sensory Parks that are equipped to provide advanced Sensory Integration Therapy. You can read more here.

Understanding and providing the right kind of sensory stimulus for children with SPD can transform those challenging moments into opportunities of self-regulation, connection, and calm. Let’s take a look at some of the most loved sensory activities that experts from around the world swear by when it comes to engaging children with SPD.  

Sensory Processing Disorder Activities

Sensory-Friendly Playdough

You can DIY playdough at home with just flour, vegetable oil, warm water, salt, glitter, and food colors. You can add lemon juice, vanilla extract, peppermint, cinnamon, lavender, etc. Playdough is ideal to enhance fine motor skills as well as works as a great pre-writing activity.

Encourage exploration and manipulation to enhance tactile input by hiding blocks, animal figurines, crayons, etc. in the dough and ask them to find it.

Sensory Bins

Take a large container/tub, add colored rice and props based on the theme of the bin. For example, sea animal figurines, blue pebbles, small rocks, etc. can be added to an underwater theme bin. Sensory bins with edible items can also make for various kinds of taste explorations.

Rainbow/Coloured Rice DIY Recipe: In a ziploc bag, add rice, 4-5 drops of food color, seal the bag and shake! Spread the rice out on a tray to cool. Bag it again and stash it away in the freezer. 

Conceal small toys or objects for a delightful and stimulating sensory treasure hunt.

WARNING: Many sensory bin ideas on the internet mention water beads. These are choking hazards and must be avoided for children younger than 4 years, and must always be used under supervision even with older children.

Calming Sensory Bottles

Repurpose old water bottles with water, baby oil, glitter, and small items like buttons. The mesmerizing swirls of the items in the bottle provide a calming for young children.

Ask/show your child to shake, flip, or turn the bottle to get them to engage with the calming visuals.

These bottles can also be used when the child is feeling particularly overwhelmed or anxious. The gentle movement of the items in the bottle can soothe the mind.

Tactile Sensory Boards

These are fun, interactive, and hands-on tools that stimulate and engage the sense of touch. Easily one of our favorite materials to engage little minds, these boards provide a variety of textures for little hands. Create boards with various textures like fur, sandpaper, felt sheets, fabric swatches, foam shapes, velcro strips, ribbons or bubble wrap. We recommend making sensory boards on wooden surfaces/boards. 

Allow the child to explore and contrast sensations through touch. Themed boards based on seasons, specific interests, etc. can be great for homeschooling purposes too.


Chewable jewelry is ideal for children who seek oral input. They also serve as discreet, yet socially acceptable ways to address this particular need. Non-toxic and food-grade materials should always be used to make chewelry. Provide chewable jewelry, like necklaces or bracelets, to satisfy oral sensory needs.

For preschoolers and older children, we recommend you collaborate with the school teachers and staff to be supportive and empathetic of the child’s needs.

Sensory Seeking Activities

Trampoline Time

Children with SPD may also have limited gross motor skills. To develop and enhance their gross motor skills, here are some simple activities for sensory seekers that provide vestibular and proprioceptive input:

  • Trampolines
  • Swings (hammocks, platform swings, sensory swings)
  • Balancing beams and boards
  • Obstacle courses that incorporate jumping, crawling, and balancing elements

One of the most recommended activities for children who are sensory seekers is messy play. Bring out those slime jars. Let them dip their fingers (and toes and even their bodies). Encourage them to explore and experience. 

Balancing Acts

Set up balance activities using balance boards, beams, or stability balls.

These activities enhance coordination and body awareness.

Sensory Obstacle Courses

Design obstacle courses with different sensory stations.

Incorporate crawling, jumping, and balancing elements for a dynamic sensory experience.

Messy Play

Embrace messy play with activities like finger painting, mud play, or exploring slime.

Sensory seekers often enjoy the tactile sensations associated with messy play.

Below are some of our absolute favorite activities that are just perfect for sensory seeking toddlers.

  • Sensory playdates with other toddlers – These help with sensory exploration as well as social interactions.
  • Musical instruments – These help little ones explore sound and rhythm (movement through dance, swaying of the body, etc.).
  • DIY sensory gardens – These can help children experience nature through touch, smell, as well as visual stimulation.
  • Water play – This can help engage and improve children’s tactile and proprioceptive senses through various water temperatures, textures, floating objects, etc.
  • Tactile sensory boards are also perfect for sensory seekers.


Materials and for Sensory Seeks

Children with SPD find it difficult to make sense of the world around them at times. Often what we consider to be moments of “acting out” are really them being overwhelmed, overstimulated, and anxious. So, besides activities, what is it that parents can carry with them or have in their homes to help their little ones remain calm? Let’s take a look below:

Body Compression

Snug clothing or compression garments such as body socks and weighted blankets, that provide continuous deep pressure can have a calming effect on even the littlest sensory seekers. 

Sensory Integration Swings

These kinds of swings allow for a full range of motion, and help provide proprioceptive and vestibular stimuli.

Rocking Chairs

These can help the child’s need for rhythmic movement while also ensuring a calming effect.

Vibrating Massagers

Vibrational input can help sensory seekers relax a great deal. Handheld massagers are ideal as they can be carried everywhere you go.

Flexible or Dynamic Seating

Therapy balls, wobble cushions and other such flexible seating options help in sensory regulation as well as engage core muscles to improve motor skills and coordination.

Sensory Processing Disorder Treatment at Plexus

At Plexus Bangalore and Hyderabad, we have state-of-the-art Sensory Parks that are safe spaces for your little one with SPD to improve their key life skills that include coordination, communication, self-regulation, and sensory processing. Our team of highly skilled occupational therapists can customize Sensory Integration Programs that suit your child’s requirements, unique symptoms, and goals.

You can read more about our Sensory Parks and Sensory Integration Therapy Program here.

Book a consultation with our teams in Bangalore or Hyderabad today.

WhatsApp +91 89048 42087

Call +91 78159 64668 (Hyderabad) | +91 82299 99888 (Bangalore)


What are the best activities for sensory avoiders?

Activities that allow choice and control can typically empower sensory avoiders to try new things. These activities are generally low in intensity and predictable, such as calm music, gentle swinging, soft textures, etc. Once the child is comfortable in this environment, we can gradually introduce other stimuli in a controlled manner, always respecting the child’s pace.

How do you play with a child with sensory issues?

  1. Create a safe, structured and predictable play environment
  2. Respect their sensory boundaries
  3. Offer acceptable and safe choices
  4. Observe their cues (step back if there’s resistance)
  5. Use sensory-friendly toys and activities
  6. Provide a calm and supportive atmosphere for exploration

How do I calm down my sensory processing disorder?

Apply deep pressure techniques like weighted blankets. You could also engage in calming sensory activities, such as slow instrumental music. You could create a calm corner for yourself – it could be a table with a book, some fresh flowers, and your favorite beverage. Incorporate slow, rhythmic movements in your day – slow down. Deep breathing, meditation or mindfulness exercises are great relaxation techniques that can promote self-regulation and calmness.

How can I help my child with sensory processing disorder?

  1. Establish consistent routines; the predictability of life reduces the feeling of overwhelm
  2. Be open and honest with teachers and caregivers about your child’s sensory issues, encourage them to offer sensory breaks, as well as create a sensory-friendly environment
  3. Create a supportive and understanding atmosphere at home
  4. Encouraging the child’s unique strengths while addressing sensory challenges
  5. Be your child’s safe space

When do sensory issues start?

Sensory issues can emerge as early as in infancy. However, they typically become more apparent when the child has to face new environments and stimuli. Early childhood experts always recommend preparing your child in advance for any new changes to their routine. This can help them regulate their emotions and also reduces the element of surprise which may be difficult for younger children to accommodate. However, if it is observed that the child has adverse or extreme reactions to the stimuli even after preparing them for the change, then it may be indicative of a sensory issue. Early intervention is crucial for addressing these issues.

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