Published On: Thu, Nov 9th, 2017

The Use of Stress Balls for the Treatment of Autism

While autism is untreatable, some things can help reduce some of the main symptoms of the condition – the sensory symptoms. One of these things is the use of stress balls. Individuals with autism, children and adults alike, can have serious sensory issues. For example, they can be irritated by excess or lack of certain stimuli such as noise, light, smell, or the feel of the clothes they have on.

By definition, the sensory issues come as a result of an unregulated sensory system. The processing of information taken into the system is never complete or becomes corrupted, making it difficult to have a defined preference. As such, the individuals with sensory issues actively seek out some stimuli and actively avoid others. That is where the use of fidget toys such as a stress balls comes in handy. And the good thing is that they work for adults too.

Image/ArtsyBee via pixabay

What makes stress balls ideal for treating autism?

Many people do not seem to understand how the treatment of autism with stress balls works. Here is how. Kids with autism are always anxious. You probably know how difficult it can be to focus when you are full of anxiety. That is the feeling these kids have almost all the time. It is what makes most of them have a hard time concentrating in class.

Their brain is always flooded with thoughts and feelings that make it almost impossible to think about other things. So, when they are squeezing something – like a stress ball – that part of the brain gets distracted. This makes it possible to use the other parts of the brain for studying, working or doing any other tasks peacefully.

Changing the stress balls

The use of stress balls can go a long way in treating autism, but you should change them often. Why is that so? You don’t want the kid with autism to get used to the same ball all the time. It can get boring to use the same ball all day every day. You can alter the density of the balls the kid uses for their autism therapy. This will contribute to the effectiveness of this technique of treating autism.

Preventing the balls from getting lost

As mentioned before, children with autism have different responses to stimuli and events and losing their sensory toy can adversely affect them. It is possible for them to develop a special connection with the stress ball, which makes it essential that you make sure it doesn’t get lost. One way is to use one with a string attached to it like the squeeze balls from Stringy Balls. It not only makes it easy to use but also ensures that it doesn’t get lost.

Other tips

Some children with autism have a specific area of their sensory systems that require more attention than others. An occupational therapist can figure this out after an evaluation. Other tips for treating autism include using a swing chair or a bubble wrap. Other toys include straw, chewable jewelry, and puzzles.


Julie Barrett is an occupational therapist and specializes in children with autism. She writes about matters autism including treating autism with stress balls. Click here to read more.

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