Engaging in sensory activities for kids with cerebral palsy is incredibly beneficial and important for their development.
Children with cerebral palsy struggle with movement, coordination, and sensory processing, which can set them back in their development. That’s why dedicating time to sensory activities for cerebral palsy is so crucial.
In this article, we’re going to discuss what cerebral palsy is and how it affects people before sharing four of our favorite sensory activities that you can try.
What is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy is a blanket term for neurological problems that affect an individual’s motor function, movement, muscle control, balance and sensory processing.
Such neurological issues are caused by brain injury or atypical brain development before, during, or immediately after birth.
However, signs of cerebral palsy do not usually present themselves right away. You may only notice a delay in your child’s development when they reach typical growth milestones. Most children begin to display symptoms before the age of three.
Cerebral Palsy Sensory Challenges
Many children with cerebral palsy have sensory struggles stemming from neurological issues. They may find it difficult to process sensory inputs and may find sensory inputs over or under-stimulating. Some cerebral palsy sensory challenges include struggling with hearing, smelling, sight, taste, touch, proprioceptive processing, and vestibular processing.
Sensory dysfunction can hinder a child’s development, impact how they understand the world, and negatively impact their physical and mental health. So, engaging in sensory activities is important for their overall development and well-being.
4 Sensory Activities for Cerebral Palsy
Sensory activities for kids with cerebral palsy should be fun, creative, exploratory, and nurturing, and should enable children to engage with their senses. Children can participate in sensory activities for cerebral palsy at therapy sessions, but it’s also beneficial to encourage them to do the same at home.
As a parent or caregiver, you’ll learn how to interact with your child in a fun, productive, and beneficial way. As a result, you’ll learn to understand them better and improve your relationship.
Activity #1 – Spray Shaving Cream
Playing with shaving cream is an easy, affordable, and versatile cerebral palsy sensory activity that will help your child develop their sense of sight and touch.
One of our favorite ideas is to cover a table with a plastic sheet and spray shaving cream on top. Your child can then develop their understanding of textures and movement by spreading the shaving cream around.
For an added visual element to this activity, add different types of glitter or food coloring to the shaving cream. Your child can mix these together and see how the colors develop and change.
Activity #2 – Bubble Tube & IRiS Qube
Specialized sensory tools lend themselves perfectly to sensory activities for cerebral palsy. Expertly designed for those with sensory challenges, specialized sensory tools like the Bubble Tube and IRiS Qube Bundle will help your child learn color recognition, cause and effect, and other key skills.
Bubble tubes have many uses and can be used by children with cerebral palsy to relax, improve focus, and learn about colors. Children can control bubble tubes, too, which helps to strengthen their motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and understanding of cause and effect. The various movements and colors that bubble tubes display creates an engaging and mesmerizing environment.
The IRiS Qube adds another element to this sensory activity. It offers an extra option to interact with sensory equipment and control the environment. When they roll, toss, or flip the Qube in their hands, the color of the bubble tube changes to the color of the panel on the Qube that faces up. Playing with these sensory tools will help your child develop their gross motor skills, coordination, ability to recognize colors, and to understand the relationship between them.
Activity #3 – Play with Ice
Ice is an excellent resource that incorporates brilliantly into many activities for kids with cerebral palsy. Handling ice will help to foster senses of touch, taste, and sight in your child. It’s also perfect for hotter days, especially if you’re playing outdoors.
Try freezing some toys in ice, and letting your child watch the ice melt away. Or, let them figure out how to free the toy more quickly. Playing with ice in this way helps them develop their sense of touch as they interact with different textures and temperatures. It may also help to improve their focus and attention-span as they wait for the ice to melt around their toy.
Another idea is to fill an ice tray with water and different food colorings or watercolor paints. Then, place the colored ice cubes into a bin or other container and let your child place their hands in the ice, watch the ice melt and the colors mix together. If you choose to use watercolor paints, be sure they're non-toxic just in case they put the ice cubes in their mouth.
Activity #4 – Sorting Games
Setting up your own sorting game is a fun and simple cerebral palsy sensory activity that will improve your child’s sense of sight and touch, help them to develop their motor skills, and strengthen their muscles.
Collect groups of various objects of different sizes, colors, shapes, materials, or textures. Then, encourage your child to sort these objects into bins or baskets by a chosen category, like color or size. The repetitive nature of sorting games is excellent for encouraging the brain and muscles to work together.
Remember that the objects you choose for the sorting game should be of a size and shape that allow your child to pick them up, hold them, and manipulate them comfortably. Some great examples include M&Ms, jelly beans, or other colored candies, large colored paper clips, and balls of various colors or sizes.
If your child or loved one has cerebral palsy, it’s vital to regularly keep them active and engaged with sensory activities. There are many avenues you can try when it comes to these activities, just remember to keep them fun, focused, and interactive. And, don’t stress if your child doesn’t show interest in a particular cerebral palsy sensory activity; there are lots to try, and you should let them guide the way.