Special Needs

Sensory play question

So our backyard is set up for sensory heaven--a large homemade sandbox, water table, playground, etc. Whenever I set the water table up in our yard I notice dd tends to get stuck on it and spends less time exploring than when it's not set up. I'm considering putting it away. She's not really playing repetitively with it or anything but I'd like her play to be more balanced with other things. Do you limit sensory play like that or am I really overthinking it?
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Re: Sensory play question

  • Water is usually VERY attractive and fascinating to kids on the spectrum. I don't think there is a right or wrong answer here unless you are working on something specific and the water play is interfering. If you want to encourage other sensory play there is nothing wrong with removing the water to facilitate that and remove a distraction from her environment.
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  • edited April 2014
    DC2London said:
    That's a tough call because the water play may be a very soothing/grounding mechanism for her.  Would she respond to time limits?  For example, "Ok, DD, let's play with the water table for five more minutes, then we're going to go find something else to do for 10 minutes!"
    Hmm. I think a "first let's make a sand castle (least favorable activity), then we can play in the water" should be done. The water can be a positive reinforcer and by then she will have done both activities.

    If you start off with the most favorite activity she may not want to do the other activities.
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  • -auntie- said:
    What does her psychologist/dev pedi think?

    Don't know. We don't have a follow up for another month and it doesn't seem pressing enough that it's worth a phone call. Dd must have known I made this post because in the hour since I made it she hasn't touched the water table once. Lol. We do first...then here with toys but this isn't one that can be moved away easily like say an iPad or Legos. It's definitely worth a shot though.
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  • Water play is DS's bread and butter. He's 6 and still has a water table, large collection of sprinklers, and one of these that a family member just built for him: https://www.preschoolpalace.org/images/Design%20pictures/securedownload[2].jpg

    He also has a swingset with monkey bars, etc, but he almost never plays on it.

    When he was a toddler we had to be very strict with the water. One of our therapists made laminated "stop" signs to put on the hose when we wanted him to stop. So some days we would go outside and we'd show him the stop sign just say "oops, no water today, we have to play with something else!".  When he was 3 it was very rough because he was throwing terrible 2's meltdowns whenever we turned off the hose.

    I give in once in awhile- depending on the day- and just let him go out and monkey around with the hose for an hour or so. If he's flooding the yard I make him stop, and he's starting to understand this and be more careful with how he plays with it. The PVC pipe set I linked to above was meant to add some creativity to his water play although so far he mostly still dumps water through it. I'm going to try to find some fancy adapters and work on creating different things with it. Sometimes if he's been playing with the hose too long I'll turn it off and he can only play with water that is already in his table. He's an only child, so he really only likes playing on his swingset when other kids are over.

    Sorry, no real advice here, for us water play is a nice respite from being inside all winter. I don't let him play for longer than an hour or so at a time.

  • Its an individual decision. For me DS, not on spectrum but very sensory, he will for instance make a disaster of his ball pit by kicking and throwing them everywhere (there are 200 balls), just for the sake of making a mess I think, so I do rotate that in and out and a few other things but other than that I allow full access to all sensory things.


  • So I kind of solved my own problem in a pretty easy manner--I started emptying the water table at night vs cleaning and filling it when we went outside first thing. When its 20 or so minutes before we go in I fill it and let her play. She's found new ways to play with it like filling it with sand and pushing her cars through it so it's been a win. Score one for the good guys. :)
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    [Deleted User]hopecounts[Deleted User][Deleted User]
  • annibesannibes member
    You can try to manage her preferences or you can see if you can get down into that rabbit hole with her and coax her out by showing her how to expand how she explores the water. This is all coming from a language and play perspective, but sometimes trying to discover what is so enjoyable about a sensory activity or how to shape an interaction from preferred activities can be really therapeutic for everyone involved.
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