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Saturday, February 17, 2018

Visual Stimulation Activities that Help Individuals on the Autism Spectrum

Children and Adults on the autism spectrum often love visual stimulation. They may seek it out by staring at moving lights or flapping their hands near their face. The following  activities are designed to provide visual sensory stimulation that people seek while at the same time promote
1) using hands together (bilateral coordination)
2) visual skills such as tracking or convergence
3) Motor control
4) social skills when used with a partner

Fidget Spinners

Fidget spinners have been very popular over the past year. Some children find them calming and since they are motivating, they can be used as a reinforce (a reward) after completing a task... perhaps homework or a chore.

The video demonstrates a few ideas on how to utilize this motivating toy to develop grasps to effectively use scissors and pencil.  At the same time children receive the pleasure of visual stimulation as they watch it spin...

Zoom Ball 

Zoom ball develop coordination and motor planning as players alternate moving arms apart and together. As players maintain their gaze on the moving "ball" their visual system is stimulated. Their eyes converge as the ball moves toward the face and diverge as the ball moves away from the face. Developing these visual skills help children to keep their eyes on a ball and other objects during sports games.  The video demonstrates how to make this game. 

Spiral Ring Stack 

This is a fun visual activity that also develops motor control. The rings are positioned at the top of a spiral shape and then when released they rapidly spiral downward.

These are easy to make but you have to buy the helicopter toy (see amazon link below) to get the plastic piece that the rings spiral down. Wedge the spiral piece inside the top of a bottle. You may need to cut a small hole inside the bottle cap and then wedge it inside and secure with tape. 
Cut lots of pretty, colorful plastic shapes from containers or lids and then cut a small notch in the center. 

Some individuals who seek visual stimulation really like this- it meets their sensory needs....

Source: Visual Stimulation Ring Stack for Individuals with Autism by RecyclingOT
Source: Visual Stimulation Ring Stack for Individuals with Autism by RecyclingOT

Spiral Ring Stringing

The young man shown in the photo is stringing small rings onto the tip of a water hose coil. He enjoys watching them spiral downward.  I attached a bean bag to the bottom so that he can stand on it while pulling the coil upward. The pulling upward provides additional sensory stimulation to his muscles and joints and develops balance. 
He really enjoys watching the rings spiral down. This seems to be relaxing and decrease agitation. 

Source: Sensory Processing Disorder Activity: Stringing Coiled Hose by RecyclingOT

There are lots of tracking tube toys on the market. I made this one by twisting a coat hanger into a spiral shape. I pushed the hanger through the clear plastic tube, added some marbles and covered the two ends. This makes a cool sound as well as providing visual stimulation. In addition, if you wedge the tube inside a box or bottle you can use it as a ring stack.

I bought this tube at a hardware store. They were sold to hold the long florescent light bulbs and were only a couple of dollars.

I include a few Amazon links to products described in this post. If you order on AMAZON through my links, I make a few pennies....


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