30 Days of Autism, Day 20: Sensory Baskets

(by Abbi)

Over the years, we’ve become experts in sensory items. Noah, like many autistic people, needs sensory items to help his hands stay busy. When he has something to fiddle and play with, he is better able to focus and hear what is going on in church.

So here’s some tips on what to avoid and include in a sensory basket for church!

Avoid:

  1. Noisy items. Noah loves the accordion tubes that you can expand and compress, but they do make a lot of noise. Save those for less quiet times!
  2. Anything small enough to be put fully in the mouth (and possibly swallowed). Some kids enjoy the texture and sensation of chewing, but don’t understand the safety hazard of small items.

Include:

  1. Larger squishy items (like stress balls) which are sturdy and won’t pop – some balls have flour-like substances, and we don’t want it exploding all over the sanctuary due to an enthusiastic squeeze!
  2. Things with interesting textures – brushes, ridged rubber toys.
  3. Slinkys
  4. Weighted stuffed animals
  5. Books to look at – such as a Bible story book or a book of prayers
  6. Small toys (cars or figures) to keep hands occupied
  7. Headphones or sunglasses for kids who are noise or light sensitive

This is also a good place to have a laminated picture bulletin so there’s an understanding of what will happen during worship. An autistic child or adult can just grab a basket on the way into the sanctuary and have what they need to help them focus and enjoy the worship.

And remember, someone who might have busy hands or headphones or a hat/sunglasses may look like they’re not paying attention, but they are. It’s these items that enable kids (and adults) like Noah to participate in the life of the church.

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