Tag Archive for: sensory

San Diego Times: Inclusive Play by Certified Autism Specialist, PT & Mom: Shannon Davis

Our founder, Shannon Davis was featured in the San Diego Times on how to incorporate Inclusive Play in honor of Autism Awareness month in April!


As an certified Autism Specialist, she gives insight and gives a couple of tips on how to integrate Inclusive Play for parents who might find trouble including so.


Below are some tips she recommends!

  • A child with autism may be sensitive to sounds and textures. Therefore, teach your child to discuss a variety of locations, games and activities for playtime. Then encourage the child with autism to choose.
  • A child with autism might ignore another child speaking to them. Therefore, teach your child about other forms of communication such as waving and a smile to say “hello.”

Here is the direct link to her feature in the article among others who suggest other helpful tips as well!


Top 10 Ways To Teach Children How To Be More Inclusive With Play

  1. Educate your children about autism, what it means and how a child may present.  One of the most important aspects to inclusion is knowledge and understanding of the forms of communication.  In most cases, a child will not be able to determine if an individual has autism by looking at them.  They will notice it through social interaction.  
  2. Many of the feelings, mannerisms and expressions that a child with autism exhibits, all  children experience.  
  3. Be ready to connect and communicate with words.  But also with non-verbal communication such as body language, facial expressions and gestures.  Non-verbal forms of communication are observed more by a child with autism. 
  4. Be patient, everyone processes communication and interaction at different speeds.  Sometimes individuals need more time.
  5. Different types of play, parallel versus interactive.  Parallel play may be a better non-invasive way to approach a child.  For example, each child has a ball and is engaging in basketball versus interactive play when two children are using one ball to pass back and forth. 
  6. Sensory play.  Engaging in activities that affect multiple sensory systems such as using different textures, lighting, sounds, scents or movements.  
  7. Indoor versus outdoors.  Be flexible, indoor settings provide a more predictable and quiet environment which might be preferred.
  8. Asking too many questions or open ended questions may be overwhelming.  Instead ask questions with yes or no answers. 
  9. Engagement in all activities-snack / lunch times, library, classroom and sports!
  10. Don’t give up.  It takes a few times for a child with autism to engage in play.

Sensory Overload

Sensory overload is an individualized response to excessive internal or external stimulation to the olfactory, auditory, visual, proprioception, tactical, gustatory, vestibular and/ or interception systems.  It is important to note that sensory overload in itself is not an issue or a challenge.  Sensory overload becomes a challenge when it affects an individual or their peers’ ability to participate in their daily activities. 

Sensory overload is caused by the dysfunction or inability of an individual to process and appropriately respond to internal or external sensory input. 

How to recognize it:  Depending on the intensity of the sensory overload it may be harder or easier to recognize.  For example, someone with auditory sensitivity, a truck drives by, the individual may cover their ears.  But if a firework goes off they may cover their ears and begin crying.  

How to manage and treat sensory overload:

  1. Identify possible internal and external stimulus that lead to sensory overload
  2. Identify possible environments and scenarios when an individual may be exposed to those stimulus
  3. Create a sensory diet and/or space that allows for a variety of activities and items that are controlled to provide a calming effect. 

By Shannon Davis, PT