Autistic people who are considered low-functioning commonly spend their time engaging in various self-stimulating behaviors. These activities might include flicking their fingers in front of their eyes, putting objects in their mouths or rocking back and forth. Encouraging sensory activities satisfies the stimulation that their nervous systems crave. Additionally, the fun or motivational actions are preferred over fixating on repetitive behaviors that serve no purpose.
Fine-Motor and Sensory Activities
Providing an autistic child or adult with modeling clay or play dough encourages fine motor function along with offering tactile stimulation. If using different colors of play dough, an adult should say the colors as the individual chooses each hue. Other fine motor activities suitable for stimulation include drawing, coloring, putting puzzles together or construction toys. Maracas and rattles also stimulate the nervous system while teaching cause-and-effect. Additional tactile cause-and-effect ideas might include a vibrating toothbrush or pressure sensitive musical toys placed in a box then filled with bean bags. A variety of objects or options also prevents the need to self-stimulate.
Adding Visual Stimuli
Provide sorting and matching activities that not only require motor skills but also provide visual stimulation while awakening cognitive skills. A small child's shape sorting toy might serve this purpose. Less complicated choices might include a series of balls combined with construction logs. As the individual succeeds in making the differentiation, gradually make the task slightly more difficult. Sorting and matching by color, letter or number are other options. More progressive ideas might additionally involve matching pictures with objects.
When an autistic child or adult cannot verbally communicate their wants or needs, the situation becomes frustrating for all concerned. Identifying objects by picture also encourages a form of basic communication as the individual eventually learns to point to or tap a picture when wanting something. Reinforce the need to communicate by placing food or other wanton item in a box or a jar. When the individual taps the box or jar, or perhaps places someone's hand on the container, reward the individual with the contents. Combine the tapping or pointing with a verbal statement in an attempt to encourage vocalization.
Relaxing Deep Pressure Activities
While low-functioning autistic individuals commonly react negatively to light touch, heavy pressure is often perceived as comfort. These people welcome bear hugs, wrestling or even pillow fights. Wearing specially designed weighted vests, rolling a large ball along their body or sandwiching them between to large cushions are creative methods of introducing deep pressure. The techniques are especially helpful when an individual becomes agitated.