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Activities to Support Neurodiversity

Activities to Support Neurodiversity

Creating activities for neurodiverse children involves recognising their unique strengths, interests, and challenges. These activities should be adaptable, inclusive, and designed to cater to various sensory, social, and developmental needs.

Here’s a broad range of activities to support neurodiverse children, including those with autism, ADHD and sensory processing disorders:

Sensory Bins

Sensory bins are containers filled with different materials like rice, beans, sand, or water beads. This encourages tactile exploration, fine motor skills, and can be calming.

You can use materials that are safe and preferred by your child (e.g., avoiding materials they might find overwhelming or aversive).

Sensory bins must be supervised at all times to prevent choking.

Water Play

Activities involving water, such as playing with water tables, using spray bottles, or floating toys are great sensory activities. Water play can help with sensory integration, provides calming effects, and enhances fine motor skills. 

Ensure the water temperature is comfortable, and provide waterproof aprons or set up in a designated splash area to minimise mess.

Play Dough or Slime

Manipulating play dough or slime of different textures and colours can support sensory processing, fine motor development, and creativity.

Offer scent-free or less sticky versions if your child is sensitive to smells or textures.

Click here for a 2 ingredient play dough you and your baba can make together.

Art and Craft Projects

Engaging in painting, drawing, collage-making, or constructing with various materials can enhance fine motor skills, self-expression, and creativity.

 Provide a variety of materials to suit different sensory preferences and offer step-by-step guidance if needed.

Sensory Paths

Create a pathway with different tactile materials or objects to walk, jump, or hop on. Sensory paths are a great way to enhance proprioception and balance, provide sensory input, and can be a fun physical activity.

You can adjust the path’s difficulty level and materials based on your child’s sensory preferences and motor skills!

Social Stories and Role-Playing

Use illustrated stories or role-playing games to practice social scenarios like greetings, sharing, or dealing with emotions. This can help develop social skills, understand social cues, and manage social anxiety.

Tailor the scenarios to your child’s experiences and use visual aids or puppets if they are more engaging for your child.

Group Games

Games that involve taking turns, like board games, simple card games, or cooperative video games. This can help foster teamwork, turn-taking, and social interaction. 

Choose games that match your child’s interests and cognitive level, and allow for flexible rules to accommodate different abilities.

Buddy Reading

Pairing children to read books together, either taking turns or reading simultaneously can encourage social bonding, improves literacy skills, and build empathy. 

Select books that both children enjoy and understand, and create a comfortable reading space.

Music and Movement

Activities like dancing to music, playing musical instruments, or participating in rhythm games help support motor coordination, auditory processing, and emotional expression.

Use noise-cancelling headphones if the child is sensitive to sounds, and choose music with a tempo that suits their comfort level.

 Tips to Keep Them Engaged

  • Choose activities that align with your child’s passions and strengths. Engagement is higher when they are interested in the activity. 
  • Use simple, clear language and visual aids to explain activities. Break down tasks into smaller, manageable steps.
  • Be open to modifying activities to suit your child’s needs and comfort levels. Flexibility can help reduce anxiety and enhance enjoyment.
  • Ensure the activity space is safe and welcoming. Minimise sensory overload by controlling noise levels, lighting, and other environmental factors.
  • Foster opportunities for social engagement in a supportive way, whether through group activities or one-on-one interactions.
  • Encourage your child to take initiative and make choices within activities. This helps build confidence and self-reliance.
  • Provide encouragement and praise to motivate and support your child’s participation and efforts.
  • Recognise that each child’s pace and approach to activities may vary. Patience and understanding are key to creating positive experiences.

 Learn more about how to support neurodiverse children here.