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Summer, a season brimming with sunshine and outdoor adventures, often challenges families of children with sensory processing disorders. While many children eagerly anticipate the joys of summer activities, those with sensory sensitivities might find the transition daunting. As a caregiver, your goal is to create an inclusive, engaging environment that respects your child’s sensory needs. We’ve curated these eight sensory-friendly summer tips to ensure every child can participate, have fun, and stay comfortable throughout the season.

1.  Sensory-Friendly Water Play

Water activities are a quintessential part of summer fun, from splashing around in the pool to gentle waves at the beach. But for children with sensory sensitivities, the sensation of water on the skin can be an overwhelming experience. To ease them into water play, start with a sensory table or inflatable pool filled with a small amount of water. Include a variety of water toys that can float, sink, or squirt,  to provide different tactile experiences and encourage exploratory play. Always prioritize the child’s comfort, letting them guide the pace of the activity.

2.  Explore Nature with a Sensory Scavenger Hunt

Transform your nature walks into sensory-friendly adventures by organizing a sensory scavenger hunt. Create a list of objects to find that stimulate various senses. For example, look for something smooth, something rough, something warm, something cool, or listen to different bird songs. This allows children to engage with their surroundings, explore a range of sensory experiences at their own pace, learn about nature, and build a connection with the outdoor world.

Nature Walk

3.  Prioritize the Comfort of Sensory-Friendly Clothing

As the summer heat sets in, lightweight clothing becomes essential. For children with sensory sensitivities, certain fabrics or clothing tags can irritate their skin. Opt for sensory-friendly clothing made from soft, breathable materials without irritating tags or seams. Specialized swimwear and hats provide extra sun protection while ensuring comfort and ease of use.

4.  Create a Serene Outdoor Space

Summer gatherings and activities can often be loud and overwhelming for children with sensory processing disorders. To counteract this, designate a quiet, calming retreat in your outdoor space where your child can take breaks. Fill it with comforting items, like their favorite books, soft blankets, or sensory toys. This tranquil space can offer a safe retreat from the overwhelming sensations of a bustling summer event.

Sensory-Friendly Summer

5.  Plan for Sensory-Friendly Trips

If your summer plans involve trips to the beach, theme parks, or local attractions, research and plan for sensory-friendly accommodations. Many places now offer quiet rooms, low-stimulation times, and sensory guides to assist families in their visits. Research and contact the venue in advance to better prepare for the trip and help your child understand what to expect.

6.  Maintain Consistency in Routine

While summer often brings a break from the typical routine, maintaining a consistent schedule can help children feel secure. Try to stick to regular mealtimes and bedtimes, and prepare your child for any upcoming changes well in advance. Visual calendars can also be helpful for marking special events or changes in the routine.

Sensory-Friendly Summer

7.  Utilize Visual Schedules and Timers

Visual aids are valuable tools for easing transitions between activities and managing time. Implement visual schedules that outline the day’s activities and use timers to provide clear start and end signals for each task or event. This can help provide structure and predictability to your child’s day.

8.  Protect Sensitive Ears from Loud Sounds

Fireworks, summer concerts, and crowded events can expose sensitive ears to distressing noise levels. Consider using noise-canceling headphones or earplugs to protect your child’s hearing while still allowing them to enjoy the festivities. These aids can greatly reduce the intensity of environmental sounds, creating a more comfortable and enjoyable experience.

Sensory-Friendly Summer


Crafting a sensory-friendly summer requires some extra planning, but the joy it brings to your child makes it all worthwhile. These eight sensory-friendly summer tips are designed to ensure an inclusive, comfortable, and fun-filled summer for your child, promoting their engagement and enjoyment in all that summer has to offer.

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