Sensory products are for everyone

When you hear the words ‘sensory toys’ you probably think of someone with a disability or additional needs. Maybe a child who is autistic, has ADHD or sensory processing disorder (SPD).

Or maybe you read it as ‘sensual toys’ and have something completely different in mind!

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And it’s true, children and adults with the conditions listed above use sensory tools, often on a daily basis, to help them navigate through their everyday life as best they can. 

Did you notice that I called them sensory “tools” not toys?

Because that’s what they are, tools to help the user manage their sensory input needs. Sure, some of them can be toys and are fun to play with, but they are also therapeutic resources, and are an important part of keeping emotions in check.

Sensory resources come in many forms and have different uses and benefits:

Visual resources such as posters with calming techniques, can help with slow breathing routines, identifying emotions and feelings, and learning what to do when you feel like you are not in a great emotional state.

Fidget tools such as spinners, pop-its, fidget cubes, pencil toppers – all of these resources are wonderful for keeping busy hands still. Smaller and more quiet fidgets can be useful in school and workplace settings, and allow you to focus on your work or listening to a speaker in a meeting while allowing your body to move in some way.

Squishy and stretchy tools are a favourite for those who like to obtain sensory input through different textures. These can come in many different shapes and sizes – we love topping our sensory kit up with new squishies to keep things interesting!

Liquid timers, sand timers and ooze tubes have a wonderful calming effect and are really mesmerising to watch.  They can also be used for transitions; whether to end a current activity, moving to another room, or setting a time to leave.
Timers are an excellent resource to have and you will find a use for them everyday!

Weighted sensory tools such as blankets, shoulder wraps and plush teddies can have a real calming and effect. Some people say that when they get home and put their weighted blanket over their legs/body, they feel the stress flow from their mind and body, and the blanket has a grounding effect. My own son has used his weighted plush koala at kindergarten and now primary school, and it provides him with a safe feeling if he starts to feel his anxiety levels creep up.

Other resources, such as hearing protectors and sensory tents, are there to provide a calm corner or safe space, to help you relax or block out unwanted sights and sounds if you are feeling a bit overloaded. Sensory overload can make you feel uncomfortable, unable to continue in your day and possibly cause a meltdown. When you learn what triggers sensory overload in you or your child, you can do your best to avoid the situation, or use resources and tools to navigate through.

Triggers, and the ability to deal with sensory overload, can change over time, so yours or your child's needs may also change.

As well as providing tools to help with stress, anxiety and sensory overload, sensory and fidget tools can help with unwanted habits. This can include nail-biting, hair pulling, scratching and picking at skin, and chewing clothes or other items (remote controls, charging cables, etc). Sensory chews are a great tool to prevent children chewing on their clothes, pencils etc. There are safe, silicon chews available in the form of pencil toppers, hand-held chews or wearable ‘chewelry’. The ARK brand of chews is made from a safe, food-grade silicon and are made in the USA. Sensory Street also offers an absorbent fabric chew, for those children who prefer to chew clothing – they can be a real money-saver!

You can help to improve fine motor and gross motor skills using fidget and sensory tools. Putty is a great example of a sensory resource that is fun to use and play, while also helping to improve hand and finger strength and dexterity. We have a range of games that have therapeutic benefits and can help with social skills, recognising emotions, taking turns, as well as fine and gross motor skills.  Your children will love playing the games and will be learning new skills along the way!

A play parachute is a great example of a sensory tool that has multiple uses – social skills playing with others, sensory input while laying underneath – you are only limited by your imagination.

The best way to find out which sensory tools work best for you or your child is simply to try them out!

Or you can Create Your Own box and choose the sensory and fidget tools that are right for you. 

We also have a great range of fidgets to top up your existing sensory kit – click below to check them out!

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