Sensory Integration Toys and Products for Children and Adults With Special Needs
Sensory integration (SI) is the process the brain uses to organize and interpret information received from all senses, including sight, smell, sound, taste, touch, body awareness, movement and gravitational pull. Many kids develop sensory integration during normal childhood activities, but some are not able to develop it as efficiently as they should. Sensory integration disorders can lead to learning, behavioral or developmental problems.
Sensory integration therapy can help children with SI disorders by exposing them to structured and repetitive sensory stimulation. Over time, the child’s brain adapts and starts to process sensory stimulations more efficiently. Through their positive experiences with sensory stimulation, children and adults can engage more with different sensations and situations. Over time, they’ll be able to continue processing new experiences in the real world.
An important aspect of SI therapy is the use of carefully designed activities and accommodation. This process could happen in the form of special sensory processing disorder products and sensory room items. Some of the products that have helped people during SI therapy include activity mats, ball chairs and clampable sensory trays.
What Are Sensory Items and Sensory Toys?
Sensory toys for children on the autism spectrum and special needs enable them to receive one or more of the sensory inputs they crave. They can keep a child engaged physically and mentally by stimulating senses such as taste, smell, touch, sound, sight, movement and balance. Special needs sensory toys may have sharply contrasting colors or produce sounds and stimulate two or more senses during play. The toys can capture the attention of children, and they may be used as rewards during behavioral analysis programs. For those with ADHD, sensory toys serve as good fidget toys that boost concentration and improve focus. They also help people who need to keep their hands busy to pay attention and listen.
Specially designed to help children experience sensory stimulation in a safe and controlled environment, these sensory and autism toys allow them to experience the world in new ways. These toys engage specific senses and empower children to process new information through their senses in a gentle way that helps them feel comfortable and relaxed.
The Benefits of Having Sensory Toys In Your Classroom
Every classroom should have sensory toys on hand, as sensory experiences offer many benefits. Here are some of the reasons to have sensory toys in the classroom.
One of the main advantages of sensory toys is their calming effects. Sensory toys can soothe or refocus attention. They are common autism resources for handling overstimulation. Noise-canceling headphones, chewable jewelry, weighted pads and other toys have soothing capabilities, suitable for relaxing students who are stressed, anxious or fidgety.
Can Provide Additional Stimulation
Sensory stimulation promotes self-awareness and connection with surroundings. Students sometimes need additional stimulation to be able to concentrate in the classroom. Small toys designed for fidgeting and sensory stimulation can result in a more focused, productive learning environment.
Helps Students Socialize
Sensory toys also promote socialization and social play. They give children the chance to explore their senses together. For instance, drums create auditory stimulation for all nearby children, and groups can cooperate to create rhythms together. Bubbles create visual stimulation, and kids can take turns blowing bubbles and chasing them. Toys like these give kids a chance to take turns while still participating in the meantime.
Sensory toys can also help improve focus. They foster awareness of a child’s surroundings, which the child can use to better concentrate in real-life situations, including classrooms. Toys for kids who struggle to focus include fidget toys of various shapes, textures and colors.
Improves Motor Skills
Muscle movement, balance and hand-eye coordination are all skills children have to develop with practice. Sensory toys provide an opportunity to support and refine these skills. For instance, molding dough requires dexterity and strength to create desired shapes. Other helpful sensory toys include equipment that promotes jumping, bouncing and core stabilization.
Improves Cognitive Development
Sensory experiences are key for cognitive development. They help a child learn to process experiences and handle simulating real-world environments. Sensory toys also help children learn about cause and effect, seeing how their actions influence the world around them.
Improves Sensory Development
A child’s brain reacts to sensory input in complex ways. Sensory toys help kids explore their senses in a safe, controlled setting. They help children learn to process and anticipate sensory experiences beyond the classroom.
What Is the Purpose of Sensory Play?
Sensory play is any type of activity that can stimulate someone’s senses. Kids learn best and retain the greatest volume of information when their senses are effectively engaged. For example, if you learned the lyrics of a song with a friend in childhood, as soon as you hear the tune, your brain will create a flashback memory to your childhood years.
Sensory play aids mental development through exploration and can help your child’s brain make strong connections for processing and responding to sensory information. Some of the vital benefits of sensory play include that it:
- Builds nerve connections in the brain’s pathways that can help a child handle complex learning tasks
- Aids the development of language, boosts cognitive growth and sharpens motor skills
- Enhances social interaction and problem-solving skills
- Can calm a frustrated or anxious child
- Helps children learn important sensory attributes like dry, wet, cold, hot and sticky
How Sensory Products Can Provide Calm
Sensory products and sensory rooms are beneficial to those who have ADHD, autism or sensory processing disorder. Calming toys help people on the autism spectrum to relax in stress-inducing situations. They provide a soothing effect when a person is experiencing a meltdown or sensory challenge. They can be used in the classroom, home or clinic and may be applied as an integral part of a calming room to help both children and adults go to sleep. The key features that create this calm can include weight, vibration, a soft surface, gentle massaging and a rhythmic sound.
Shop for Sensory Products Online With Enabling Devices
Sensory toys offer a wide range of benefits for children on the autism spectrum. Some toys serve to soothe and calm an overstimulated child. Other toys help children learn about the world around them and how their actions affect it. Sensory toys can also help develop motor skills, including oral motor skills. If you’re looking for sensory toys, shop with Enabling Devices.
At Enabling Devices, we’ve spent over 40 years creating products to help those with disabilities participate in the world. Our goals are to enable possibility, unlock potential and bring joy. If you’re unable to find the product you need, we can custom-design a new product for you.
Browse Enabling Devices’ sensory toys above for children on the autism spectrum and other disabilities.