Fun Activities for Kids With Autism: 5 Benefits of Blowing Bubbles

When my autistic son attended occupational therapy as a preschooler, his therapist would often blow bubbles with him. It turns out that blowing bubbles is beneficial for all kids, not just those on the autism spectrum. Here are 5 reasons to blow bubbles with your child:

  1. It reduces stress. Some adults think kids don't suffer from stress, but they most certainly do. New situations – changing day cares, starting kindergarten, trying a dance class – create stress for children, especially those who are introverted. Research shows that one of the most effective and easiest ways to reduce stress is through deep breathing. Because it requires deep breathing and youngsters love doing it, blowing bubbles is the ideal kid-friendly activity for stress relief.
****As a stay-at-home mom with an autistic child and a baby, I reaped the benefits of blowing bubbles, too. It helped me stay calm during my busy days and relaxed me when I'd start to worry about my son's future. 

2. It promotes interaction and communication. Many preschool children can't blow bubbles by themselves and need an adult's help. My son's occupational therapist used bubbles as a way of connecting with him. She would blow the bubbles and he would pop them. Because his speech was very limited, he'd communicate by laughing, clapping, smiling, and gesturing. He'd point to the closet where she kept the bubbles when he wanted to play with them. His speaking vocabulary began to take off as he experienced first-hand the joy of bubbles. Some of his earliest words were: pop, wet, wand, and blow.

 3It helps teach letter names and sounds, numerals, and vocabulary. Nothing turns kids off to learning more than boring paper-pencil tasks such as workbooks. They can learn the same material but in a developmentally-appropriate and entertaining way with bubbles. When my son was in kindergarten, I'd write the letters of the alphabet on index cards. Then he'd blow some bubbles. When the bubbles landed on an index card, he'd tell me the letter name or make that letter's sound. It was fun, inexpensive, and easy to do. He loved it.

4. It's sensory play. Young children, especially those on the autism spectrum, benefit from sensory play. Sensory play includes all those activities that stimulate the senses – making mud-pies, building sandcastles, doing finger-painting, running through the sprinklers, and blowing bubbles. Many children with autism have sensory integration disorder, meaning they struggle to integrate the senses. Sometimes they have severe reactions to noise, touch, smell, and light. My son would scream bloody murder at the sound of a mixer, blender, and vacuum. He was extremely sensitive to touch, pulling away when someone tried to help him put on his coat or go to hold his hand. Blowing bubbles was a sensory activity that soothed him. 

5. It enhances eye contact. My son's speech therapist used bubbles to improve his air flow and lip rounding so he could pronounce certain sounds and words. She also used it to improve his eye contact. Like many children with autism, my son would not look at people when he spoke to them or when they spoke to him. His speech therapist wouldn't blow bubbles until he made eye contact with her. Once he did, she would resume. Through that interaction, he learned that communication was both verbal and non-verbal.

If your child has sensory integration disorder, this is the resource you need. It's choke-full of fun and creative ways to help your child experience a wide-range of activities. Even though my son worked with a fabulous occupational therapist who had plenty of suggestions, we still loved all this book had to offer. It's a must-have for your home library and you'll soon have most of its pages dog-eared! 

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