Creating a Sensory Box for Your Child with Autism: A Holiday Season Activity

sensory box

The holiday season is often a whirlwind of activities, from cooking festive feasts to wrapping presents and decorating the house. Amidst the hustle and bustle, finding activities that keep your child engaged and happy can be a challenge, especially for parents of children with autism. 

Crafting a sensory box is one way to provide a soothing and stimulating experience for your child.

sensory box

What is a Sensory Box?

A sensory box is a container filled with various materials to stimulate the senses – touch, sight, sound, smell, and sometimes taste. It serves as a safe space for children with autism to explore and engage their senses in a controlled environment.

How to Create a Sensory Box:

  1. Choose the Right Container: Select a container that suits your child’s preferences. It can be a plastic bin, a shoebox, or any container with a lid that can be easily opened and closed.
  2. Fill it with Sensory Materials: Here are some suggestions for sensory materials to include:
    • Textures: Consider items with different textures like smooth stones, soft fabrics, squishy toys, or scratchy items like carpet or Velcro.
    • Visual Stimulation: Add items that are visually appealing, such as glitter, kaleidoscopes, colorful scarves, or shiny objects.
    • Auditory Stimuli: Incorporate items that produce various sounds like bells, chimes, musical toys, or a small rainstick.
    • Scents: Introduce scented items like lavender sachets, citrus peels, scented markers, or essential oil-infused cotton balls (ensure safety and avoid strong scents).
    • Taste (if suitable): If your child enjoys exploring tastes, you can include safe snacks like flavored rice crackers, dried fruits, or chewy snacks (consider any dietary restrictions or allergies).

       3. Personalize It: Tailor the sensory box according to your child’s preferences. You know your child best, so include items that align with their interests and sensory needs.

Benefits of a Sensory Box:

  • Calming Effect: A sensory box can provide a calming effect, helping to reduce anxiety and stress.
  • Sensory Exploration: Encourages exploration and stimulates the senses in a controlled and safe environment.
  • Independent Play: It promotes independent play, giving parents valuable time to attend to holiday tasks.

You know your child best, so customize this to their interests, preferences, and abilities. Also, if your child engages in pica, mouthing, or other potentially dangerous activities, make sure you provide appropriate supervision.

Incorporating a sensory box into your child’s routine during the holiday season can be a rewarding experience. It offers a moment of respite for parents and an engaging and enjoyable activity for children with autism.

Remember, every child is unique, so observe and adjust the sensory box contents based on what brings comfort and joy to your child.

Happy holidays filled with sensory exploration!


Refer to “The Out-of-Sync Child” by Carol Kranowitz for additional inspiration and ideas. This book offers valuable insights into sensory processing issues and practical suggestions for creating sensory-rich environments for children.

For more blog articles from ABA Connect on surviving the holidays check out: How to Cope with Holiday Stress, Make a Plan to Avoid Santa Trauma, and Holiday Planning that Makes Room for Autism.

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