Autism and Senses
Learning about the five senses can be some of the most fun lesson plans for preschool autistic children simply because some of the symptoms of autism sometimes include heightened senses. To begin with, discuss the five senses with children and remember some of the notes below that are brief overviews of how autism may impact some of the students' senses.
- Touch. You may notice that some children with autism tend to wear the same types of outfits over and over. That's because they often are very sensitive to how cloth lays against their skin. This makes clothing like jeans tend to irritate their skin.
- Hearing. Some children with autism tend to have a heightened sense of hearing. They may hear things that others can not. For instance, if a television is on with no sound, they may still be able to "hear" that the television is on. This can makes some sounds almost painful to the children.
- Smell. An acute sense of smell may be a factor in some children with autism. This may even have an impact on what they will and will not eat due to the connection between smell and taste.
- Taste. An acute sense of taste may accompany an acute sense of smell. It may also stand alone, making children with autism very picky eaters.
- Sight. Those with autism may have a different way of seeing things. It is almost as if they actually see things in pixels, making things appear to them as if they were seeing everything with a layer of "static" such as you would see on a television.
Discuss some of these things with your students before moving on to the activity as one of the lesson plans for preschool autistic children.
This particular lesson plan will focus on the sense of touch. For children that have autism with an acute sense of touch, the product of this lesson plan may also be used a positive coping skill in times of stress for the child. If they are sensitive to different types of fabric, then chances are that some types of fabric will provide them with enough pleasure to comfort them.
To begin this project, teachers will need to gather a variety of different fabrics, some scissors and some yarn. If you wish to make the collection more rigid, you can even back the fabric with cardboard or construction paper, but this make take away from some of the quality of the feel of the fabric. Some examples of the types of materials you may want to use are listed below.
Pass the fabrics around and ask students to describe how the fabric feels to them. You may even want students to close their eyes as they do this to avoid preconceived notions about how the fabric might feel to them. Once students have touched the fabric ask them to pick out the ones that feel the best to them. Have students pick three different types of fabric. Help them to cut holes along one edge of the fabrics. Help them thread the yarn through the fabric to make a "book". Tie the yarn at the ends to seal the binding. Once the book is complete, you can even have students draw a face on each fabric to express how it makes them feel.
This book may be a handy tool for students to use as a coping skill if they become distress and have a fabric in the book that comforts them. Ask the students to keep the books in their desk or put them in a place where they are able to access them easily.