Everyday Games for Sensory Processing Disorder - Excerpt

Everyday Games


Most children have some opinion about the kinds of things they like—and don’t like—to touch. Fuzzy kittens and warm bubbles are nearly universal in their appeal to children, while fewer young children like sticking their hand inside a pumpkin to pull out the slimy guts and seeds—and very few care to touch a thorn on a rose bush! But for children with SPD, this goes much deeper than just a preference. It’s a preoccupation, even a compulsion, to want to feel or not feel certain things.

A child who is hyper-responsive (over-responsive) to touch may:

A child who is hypo-responsive (under-responsive) to touch may:


“This game helps young children develop their tactile sensitivity and increase their tolerance for textures. For this game to be successful, use small items with distinctive shapes as the “buried treasure.” Because this game uses many small pieces, always supervise your child, especially if they are still exploring objects with their mouth.

Fill a bowl with dried beans, rice, or macaroni and hide the “buried treasure” in it. I recommend plastic animal-shaped figurines you can find cheaply at most toy stores. Try not to let your child peek while you hide the items—the element of surprise works well in this game.

The object is for them to use their hands to dig for buried treasures. Finding hidden things by touch is an exciting way of satisfying the tactile sense. The added excitement of getting a prize rewards children for using their desire for touch appropriately. Even the child who is learning to increase their tolerance for textures will enjoy this game.”

“Take turns reaching into the bowl and pulling something out. Ask, “What does it feel like?” “What did you get? A whale! Cool, my turn. Let’s see what I got!”

After your child has enough experience reaching in the bowl and finding an object, increase their tolerance or satisfaction by putting the creatures in other materials. You could start with water that has lots of bubbles to hide the objects. Then move to more-challenging materials, such as cornstarch and sand.

Try using the following objects:

Add the element of searching by asking for a specific object: “Can you reach into the bowl and find the clothespin?” The child isn’t then grabbing the first thing found, but instead should dig through the bowl and feel for the desired objects.

If you’re worried that your child might spill the bowl’s contents all over the floor, you can still play this fun hunt by putting the treasures and the material (macaroni, rice, beans, cornstarch, and even sand) into a small paper bag or bucket.

If you have time to broaden the routine by bringing in action and language, you could have the animals talk and play with each other (“My kangaroo is going to jump over the hippo—what’s yours going to do?”) or line them up in size order for a parade.

Other games in this chapter: Ice Cube Fun | 6 MONTHS TO 2 YEARS” “Water Play Games | 6 MONTHS TO 2 YEARS, “Mitten on a Bottle | 6 MONTHS TO 2 YEARS”, “Where Am I Touching? | 1 YEAR TO 7 YEARS”, “Scarf Game | 1 YEAR TO 10 YEARS”, “Playing with Your Food | 1 YEAR TO 12 YEARS, “Texture Play | 2 YEARS TO 5 YEARS”, “Sock Game | 2 YEARS TO 10 YEARS, “Back Drawing | 2 YEARS TO 10 YEARS ”

Every child is unique, just like every human is one of a kind. And yet humans share certain characteristics that are common. Many of us know the feelings of envy, doubt, sadness, joy, and sorrow, among others. Children with sensory-processing issues also have some characteristics in common, which is why the games and ideas in these excepts are geared to these issues and everyday games to play.

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