Sensory play is an underutilized activity in speech therapy – use sensory bins, sensory bottles, and more to stimulate language, social skills, and motor skills!
Why is sensory play important?
I am a firm believer that sensory play is beneficial for all children. We know children, especially young children, learn best through hands-on exploration to learn about the world around them. Sensory activities help the brain focus, self-regulate, reduce distractions, and build neural connections to learn and retain information. Sensory stimulation is critical for little brains to develop and strengthen sensory-related synapses and functions!
Sensory exploration allows us to provide language stimulation in a meaningful context and create functional learning opportunities. Teaching functional language in a natural way is crucial for early language development. In addition, sensory play is fun and keeps children engaged and motivated! It takes the focus off of the articulation or language targets – making therapy feel less like work, and improving carry-over skills!
Many children with sensory processing disorder (SPD) also receive speech therapy services. SPD is particularly common in children on the autism spectrum. In fact, research has found that 78 percent of autistic children present with sensory difficulties.  By understanding and helping a child with their sensory needs, we can make further progress. Children with SPD may be hesitant to touch things like shaving cream or squishy sand – this is normal. Be sure to ease them into the concept of sensory play and have them watch you or a parent play with the sensory item.
I also like to include some fine-motor tools like tongs, tweezers, and scoopers. I love the Learning Resources brand for these things! All sensory bin items can be found on Amazon, Hobby Lobby, Walmart, Dollar Tree, really anywhere!
Sensory Bins have become a favorite tool of mine to use in therapy because they are so effective to keep little hands and minds busy, and they keep things fun! I hope you have gained some ideas from this post to use in your next speech session!
Author: MaKayla Stubblefield, M.S., CF-SLP
 Miller, L.J., S. Schoen, J.Coll, B. Brett-Green, and M. Reale. Final report: Quantitative psychophysiologic evaluation of Sensory Processing in children with autistic spectrum disorders. Los Angeles, CA: Cure Autism Now, February 2005.
 Allisonfors. (2021, January 29). Why you should be using sensory bins in speech therapy. Allison Fors, Inc. Retrieved October 10, 2022, from https://allisonfors.com/using-sensory-bins-in-speech-therapy/