21 Benefits of Sensory Play For Autism

Susan Lewis, MOT, OTR/L | Occupational Therapist
April 28, 2022

Any child can benefit from sensory play. Children on the autism spectrum can be sensitive to everyday sensory experiences, something as simple as a certain texture in their clothing can be a trigger for a child to become upset. By exposing children to different sensory experiences, it can help the child learn how to better manage a variety of sensations as well as teaching them how to interact with the outside world. Below is a list of benefits of sensory play for children with Autism.

1. Increase motivation
2. Decrease frustration
3. Help regulate the vestibular system
4. Improve social play
5. Develop fine motor skills
6. Decrease meltdowns
7. Increase communication skills
8. Increase the frequency of play with a sibling
9. Increase opportunities for learning throughout the day
10. Teach new vocabulary
11. Provide opportunities for play with grandparents
12. Increase exercise
13. Decrease boredom
14. Decrease aggressive behavior
15. Teach new gross motor skills
16. Teach “following” instructions
17. Teach receptive language skills
18. Teach pretend play skills
19. Increase willingness to participate in daily activities such as going to the park
20. Increase everyday living skills
21. Increase willingness to try new foods

Sensory Box Ideas
You can place a variety of items in a sensory box. Below is a list of various items I have used in the past or currently use now. I like to add small toys or items for the child to find in the boxes to keep them from focusing on the textures if they find them aversive. You can also place spoons and cups to work on more functional skills such as scooping and pouring.
1. Dry beans
2. Dry rice (can add color or scents)
3. Fake snow
4. Shredded paper
5. Glitter
6. Water beads
7. Cotton balls
8. Small stones
9. Dried lentils
10. Pipe cleaners
11. Dried pasta
12. Dried corn

Resources for parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

1. This website provides parents with various information on autism, from a new diagnosis to education, employment, as well as future and financial planning

2. This website is for Bay Area parents looking to join support groups with families who are going through similar experiences and want to be involved with the community through Autism Speaks.

3. This link provides a few other links for more specific needs for parents from education on their child’s rights with an autism diagnosis, to support from other parents, as well as providing information on a range of services for families


*Sensory information for this handout was provided by

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