I’m sure by now, you’ve all seen children carrying around ‘fidget toys’. But are they just a fad toy or are they helpful for some children or adults?
How might they actually be helpful, you ask? Well, they can help some to relax, focusing on how a sensory toy works instead of what is worrying them. It can also help someone concentrate and process information or even improve motor skills – for example, fidget cubes would help with this.
What types of sensory toys can you get and how can they be used?
Tactile, auditory, oral, visual and olfactory are some of the senses that can be targeted when using sensory toys. An example of a tactile toy could be a “Pop It” one of the latest crazes, a silicon shape which is a bit like bubble wrap.
Who could find sensory toys beneficial?
Most people enjoy ’playing’ with sensory toys, and they can be quite addictive, however for some it may be essential to carry around a “tangle fidget” or putty. Here are some specifics of who may find them beneficial, but it could be for anyone, and some people may enjoy certain sensory toys over others:
- Autistic people
- If you have ADHD, may help with concentration – for some people it may not actually distract them, it helps to focus and receive & process the information from teachers. (So, teachers, please don’t ban them completely in schools because they really do help us).
- If someone has anxiety it may help them calm down by focussing on something that isn’t the panic attack or intrusive thoughts
- A sensory toy can provide a better coping mechanism for other actions such as picking or biting
How can you use sensory toys?
There is a wide range of sensory activities, toys and experiences, here are just a few examples that will help with different senses.
Some are small and easy to access others may take a bit of preparation or are things that can be accessed outdoors.
For tactile experiences and touch we love putty, kinetic sand or liquid sensory tiles. The current trends of tangles and Pop-its are very popular, cheap and very accessible and a squishy or stress ball not only is a tactile toy but can also help with strengthening grip.
Noisy Putty or clickers are great for auditory or noise seekers – however, not so good in a school environment, can you imagine a teacher coping with multiple noisy sensory toys in a classroom?
If you are looking for something to give the whole body sensory experience try trampolines or a bouncy hopper. A Lycra body suit is also great.
Scented toys or stationary are great for stimulating olfactory senses. Smelly pens, scented play dough or essential oils are all simple additions to the smelly sensory toy box or pencil-case.
Your Village Shop stocks a range of small, pocket money sensory and fidget toys. As an autism friendly shop we know that experiencing and trying different toys or activities can be incredibly beneficial.
What are your favourite sensory toys or activities?