Sensory toys, as the name implies, are made for the stimulation of the five senses. The five senses, as you may well know, are touch, sight, sound, smell, and taste. When we talk of sensory toys, then the consensus is that they are for children with special needs.
But, nothing can be further than the truth, as sensory toys can be used with toddlers to help grasp a better understanding of their environment. These toys also assist children with ADHD (attention-deficit/hyper disorder) or kids with ADD (attention deficit disorder).
And, yes, these toys prove very useful for children with autism. But, what are the advantages do these toys provide?
The Many Advantages Of Sensory Toys
- Sensory toys provide a means to relax, focus and acclimatize to a particular scenario
- Help keep the hands busy, so that the child may focus on the discussion at hand
- Develops the gross motor skills in children, learning colors, textures, and patterns
- Facilitates comprehension of things with decreased fear and anxiety
- Encourages initiative and nurtures a natural sense of curiosity
- Aids to develop social skills such as planning, sharing, and even negotiation
- Stimulates the brain – sensory toys help create neurological pathways to enhance neural processing system
- Significantly improves coordination
- Boosts self-confidence and promotes a sense of accomplishment
Hence, you’ll find that parents, guardians, or teachers are making use of sensory toys to help their children in every possible aspect of their lives, be it learning, coordination, problem-solving, or just having a great time.
Children around the globe, especially those who have autism, tend to enjoy sensory toys. You see, children with autism need extra attention from their caregivers, as they find it difficult to grasp things. Thus, they don’t react well with new environments or people.
It is challenging to understand what makes them uncomfortable or afraid. But, with the use of sensory toys, they adapt to new circumstances with greater ease.
For example, if you take a child with autism to the beach, the child may be overwhelmed with the sight and sounds. On the other hand, if you use sensory toys in a familiar environment to get them accustomed to the sensations they may experience at a beach, then the child might relish the outing.
So, let’s take a look at the popular sensory toys that kids love to play with, and those that are most useful for children with autism.
Fun And Functional Sensory Toys
Spinners, commonly called fidget spinners, are the perfect toy for neurotypical children. Known as classroom distractions, they soon became tactical toys for kids with ADD and ADHD. They proved remarkable for sensory processing, as children were able to concentrate on primary tasks such as listening to the teacher or speaking to classmates.
Due to its compact size, children were able to enjoy the fast and smooth rotation of these toys, without creating much distraction. And, as the popularity of these spinners increased, they were introduced in different colors, themes, and styles.
Chew toys, also termed as chewelery, help strengthen facial muscles, fine-tune tongue coordination, and buildup motor skills.
However, these toys were not as popular as other sensory toys.
In recent years, these sensory toys have gained the approval of many applied behavior analysts as well as autism spectrum disorder specialists. These chew toys come in a variety of shapes and sizes. And, for those who dislike the silicone texture can now find fabric chew toys too.
Cube toys are a die with various switches, buttons, and textures on each side. These are available with multiple options, ones where the die may emit sounds when the buttons or switches are clicked or those that do not make any noise.
These toys may even be designed for an array of developmental stages. And are ideal for students or those in the workplace.
These are very functional toys aptly suited to children with autism. Sensory mats are small-sized mats that come in multiple textures. The kids can use their hands or feet to describe the sensations they feel when they touch the different surfaces.
Most specialists use these mats to determine the different reactions that children with autism have to the numerous consistencies, and discover the comfort level of each child. These mats are also used to familiarize children with several textures so that they do not feel fear of something new.
Another choice for older children with ADD, ADHD, or even autism is the sensory rings. It is not for younger kids, as it poses a choking hazard.
But, for those who love playing with slinky, sensory rings are slinky for your fingers. They provide hours of fun with its interesting texture, elasticity, and resistance.
These rings are available in multiple colors and textures. Sensory rings also come with appendages that are similar to the cube fidget. And, these rings are now even made of silicone, serving as chew toys, sensory rings, and hand manipulatives.
There isn’t a doubt that every child loves toys. But, the use of sensory toys enables children with special needs to engage their various senses in a natural and safe environment. The idea is to guide the children and their parents to deal with hypersensitivity or hypo-sensitivity with sensory stimuli.
Every parent will vow they need all the help they can get. Parents with special needs are no different. The best bet is to get in touch with professionals as soon as you feel that your child may have autism.
Occupational therapists, autism spectrum disorder specialist or even you general practitioner can better guide you to support your child to the best of your ability. AAnd, there are many parent support groups too that are there to provide you with encouragement and tons of useful information.
We’re hoping that the article proves beneficial to you. For more information, you can also google your queries and read up on heaps of articles, blogs, or websites to gain a better understanding of your child’s needs. Meanwhile, we recommend that you cuddle your loved ones and stay safe.