If you love a child with autism, ADHD or any condition associated with sensory processing disorder, our Akron occupational therapists have some tips for sensory toy gifts this holiday season.
Child development toys are beginning to dominate the toy industry in general – which is great news. The fact is, ALL kids can benefit from various sensory toys, which focus on stimulating or calming the five main senses – sight, taste, touch, hearing and smell. Some of the best sensory toys for children with special needs also focus on two others: Balance and body awareness.
Benefits of Sensory Toys
Toys are a great way to promote development because children learn best through play. That’s why sensory toys are so effective in:
- Promoting focus. Sensory toys are a great way to help children hone their concentration skills. A child with difficulty concentrating or a learning disability will spend more time engaged with a sensory toys than they will other tasks, so this helps them build their concentration.
- Reducing anxiety. Playing with sensory toys can be calming because it can help regulate internal discomfort, whether it stems from boredom, agitation or some other type of agitation.
- Building fine motor skills. Sensory play that involves exploring their environment by use of pouring, pinching, lacing, etc. can help build these small muscle groups, important for skills like writing, zipping, buttoning or tying.
- Supporting language. When children play with objects of varying tastes, textures, sounds and colors, we can practice describing each aspect in detail, which helps them develop new ways of talking about the world around them.
Sensory Toy Tips for “Santa”
Many sensory toys are fairly simple by design, and often can be created using common household supplies.
However, if you’re looking to buy something for a special child in your life, we have a few suggestions.
Jumping Board. Children who love to move, wiggle and jump will love this board, which wobbles when you balance your weigh on it. Our Akron occupational therapists think it’s great for helping kids develop balance skills and overcome fear of heights. (Fold & go trampolines are great for this as well!)
Sensory Hammock Swing. Kids who love pressure, snuggling or swinging will enjoy a hammock swing. Some brands can be used both indoors and outdoors.
Sand & Water Play Table. These are great for helping kids develop tactile skills, like pouring, scooping, pinching, stacking, etc. You can fill them with sand, water or just about anything (bubbles, beans, water beads, Play-Doh, playfoam, etc.)
Builder Marble Run. This kind of creative construction helps children build fine motor skills, visual spacial skills, three-dimensional thinking, critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Kids are delighted when they finish & get to watch the marbles wind their way down the track. Some models even play music.
Chewelry. Jewelry that is chewable (and non-toxic) is a great alternative for kids who tend to stick everything in their mouths. If they’re constantly biting on their pencil, shirt, fingers, etc., these will be much-appreciated.
Headphones. Noise-reducing or noise-canceling headphones can be an excellent way for children overwhelmed with noises to catch a break. They can also be used to stimulate the hearing sense with music or Audible books.
If you have questions about what would be best for a specific child (every child’s sensory diet needs are different!) our Akron occupational therapists are happy to help!
Therapy & Wellness Connection – your connection to a life without limitations – provides occupational therapy to children in Cleveland, Brecksville-Broadview Heights, Akron and surrounding communities. We also offer summer camp, day programs, education services, vocational counseling and more. Call us at (330) 748-4807 or send us an email.
Why Sensory Play Is Important, Sept. 16, 2019, By Amanda Morin, VeryWellFamily.com
More Blog Entries:
Cleveland OT Talk: “Why Would My Child Need Occupational Therapy? June 19, 2019, Therapy & Wellness Connection Occupational Therapy Blog