Sensory Scout Blog

How to Play With a Child Who Has Sensory Processing Disorder

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How to Play With a Child Who Has Sensory Processing Disorder
If you are the parent or guardian of a child with SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder), you know that special care and attention must be given to their everyday activities and routines. While every kid loves to play, kids with SPD have their own ways of processing, extending to how they experience and enjoy playtime.

Today, we’re looking at how to maximize fun and enjoyment when playing with your child. When playtime is optimized for the highest levels of development and joy, both parents and children receive the benefits. And one excellent way to get the most out of play is to enter into activities with your child’s unique needs in mind.



Play According to Your Child’s Needs

Children with SPD can have trouble with both emotional reactions and physical skills. These issues can affect how they experience and enjoy play. Luckily, you can help guide playtime by selecting certain activities, environments and inputs that help support your child’s distinct needs.


Whether the play is interactive or solo, you can help your child discover ways to support functions like coordination, socialization, sensory exploration, and more.


















Pressure Seeker

If your child is a pressure-seeker, they might crave things like bear hugs or even roughhousing. A lack of body awareness can create issues for pressure seekers because they might overstep boundaries during play with other children.
For pressure seekers, consider the following to help improve body awareness and create safer interactions:
  • Using clay or play dough, experiment with various creations and consider how much pressure or force is required to make different shapes
  • Try a tug-of-war with safe levels of pulling, pushing and landing (bean bags or pillows make great soft landing places)
  • Playing catch with a weighted ball can help children develop awareness around weight and pressure

Movement Seeker


In general, play is excellent for movement seekers! It helps release excess energy and gives the fidgets someplace safe to go. Your movement-seeker might experience excessive moving, fidgeting, tapping, twirling or jumping, but a good play session can provide them with the stimulation they need.


  • Kid-friendly dodge ball (use a soft beach ball for safety)
  • A scavenger hunt inside or outside of the house (try timing the game for added urgency)
  • Mini trampoline activities that let them “jump out” their jitters
  • Relay race games if you have multiple kiddos!



 Tactile Avoider


If your child is a tactile avoider, you know how much this issue can interrupt their ability to experience the world around them fully. Fortunately, fun playtime activities can help your child embrace the weird and wonderful world of tactile sensations all around them!
  • Consider using “messy” materials next to your child as they color or engage in non-messy play. Seeing you have fun with materials like shaving cream or slime might eventually encourage them to get involved in the fun!
  • Try having your child use chopsticks or tweezers to pick up objects they wouldn’t otherwise touch: slick orange slices, “furry” kiwi fruit, etc.


How to Play With a Child Who Has Sensory Processing Disorder: Conclusion

There are many ways to experiment with and explore playtime options with your SPD child. Finding favorite ways to express themselves and release pent-up energy can improve your child’s mood, allow them to sleep soundly, and help them play better with other children.