My youngest really seems to thrive after TV time. While it's on, she mimics the words the characters say and answers the yes or no questions--she doesn't seem to zone out from it at all. After I turn it off it is her most communicative, focused, organized time of the day. I can easily get her to engage with me in a toy for 5+ minutes and she will attempt to mimic verbally. The benefits are short lived--after an hour she's back to her old self. She seems to constantly live in a state of being overstimulated (with lots of stimming) to the other extreme of being almost lethargic. She is very quiet as well with little babbling. She is very self-directed and will only listen if she is very motivated by what I'm asking. Anything that you would assume would be overstimulating to a toddler (especially one with sensory concerns) seems organizing to her. We went away for thanksgiving to my SILs house who had 20 adults/10 kids for dinner and she was super talkative with the other kids--I had actually never seen her be so verbal and I didn't see her self-stim once.
Obviously I want her to get the benefits she gets after tv without leaving it on all day. Any other visual activities that might elicit the same response without all the potentially negative side effects? My OT recommended making a sensory bottle with an old water bottle/food coloring/glitter but she has zero interest in it.