Five Fun Sensory Art Projects for Your Child With Behavioral Issues

Kids with behavioral issues typically face sensory and motor challenges other kids do not face. A strength of children with behavioral issues such as ASD or ADHD, however, is visual processing and orientation. Certain aversions to textures, such as squishiness or stickiness, can make some forms of visual art expression difficult. By finding art projects that expose your child to different textures, as well as engaging coordination between motor and visual processing, you can have fun with your child while helping develop their sensory processing skills. Here are five art project ideas you can try with your child with easy-to-find items.

  1. Water tub colors: this simple activity is best done outside and involves using a larger clear tub, a few smaller containers, soap, and food coloring. Water tends to be a comfortable texture for kids with ASD, so this activity can be a good place to start. Fill the larger tub with soap and water and the smaller tubs with colored soapy water. Allow your child to experiment with creating different colors with the soapy water. This activity is fun, easy, and can be a great introduction to your child of the principles of color mixing.
  2. Plastic baggy painting: this is another way to explore the ways colors can mix to make new colors. Take some plastic freezer bags and add drops of paint inside them with different colors. Have your child squish the paint around to see how the colors mix and change. This is a good way to lightly get your child used to the texture of paint in a way that isn’t messy.
  3. Calm down bottles: this art project ends up creating a toy that can be used to help calm your child during stressful moments. For this you will need a clear plastic bottle, various colors of glitter, food coloring, and several small objects of your choosing. Give your child opportunities to explore different color combinations of glitter and food coloring in the water bottle. You can choose to add small objects such as colored marbles to find through the clouds of colored glitter.
  4. Styrofoam sculptures: be sure to save those pieces of Styrofoam when you get packages in the mail. By using toothpicks to stick the pieces together, you and your child can have fun creating works of art by breaking up the Styrofoam pieces and connecting them to create creatures, planes, or whatever comes to your imagination. You can also help bring your sculptures to life by coloring in your sculptures with markers.
  5. Bubble wrap painting: this may be a messier option, but it is certainly loads of fun. This activity will require a large sheet of paper, paint, and bubble wrap. Tape together a bubble wrap “shoe” for your child and have different colors of paint laid out. Allow your child to walk along the paper and watch them create different color combinations with a visually appealing texture.