For families with kids with special needs, finding methods to present harmless sensory play is always an essential part of the neural growth of the children. Many families work extra hard to ensure their kids have the instruments they need to tackle their Sensory Processing Disorders.
First, let’s have a little overview of what Sensory Processing Disorder is.
What is a sensory processing disorder?
SPD or Sensory Processing Disorder is an ailment that affects how a person's brain processes stimuli or sensory information stimuli. Sensory information comprises things you touch, taste, see, smell, or hear. SPD can influence all of your senses, or sometimes only one. Sensory Processing Disorder usually means you're excessively sensitive to provocations that other people might not be. But this condition can also cause the opposite effect. In such cases, it takes more stimuli to impact a person.
Children are highly likely to have SPD than most adults. But adults can develop symptoms, too. In grown-ups, it's expected these indicators have existed since their childhood. However, they have found ways to deal with Sensory Processing Disorders that let them conceal their disorder from other people, be it family, friends, or anyone else.
There has been some discussion among doctors regarding Sensory Processing Disorder and whether it is a separate disorder. Some specialists argue it isn't, while others say it's an analysis of things that could be justified as standard behavior in children. Some doctors suggest that some children might feel just highly delicate.
Some specialists say that Sensory Processing Disorder is a symptom of other illnesses — such as hyperactivity, autism spectrum disorder, anxiety, attention deficit disorder, etc. — and not a separate disorder. Others believe a child can suffer from Sensory Processing Disorder without any other disorder. Some doctors say that it is clear that certain children have problems managing stimuli or regular sensory information. As of now, Sensory Processing Disorder isn't acknowledged as a distinct medical identification.
Sensory Processing Disorder is an ailment in which the human brain has trouble obtaining and reacting to information that is gained through the five primary senses, i.e., sense of touch, taste, sight, smell, or hearing. Previously known as sensory integration disorder, it is not presently acknowledged as an official medical diagnosis.
People with SPD are hypersensitive to things in their surroundings. Familiar sounds or noises may be overwhelming or even painful at times. The slight touch of cloth may scrape the skin.
People with sensory processing disorder may:
- Bump into things
- Be uncoordinated
- Be challenging to play or engage in conversation with
- Be incapable of differentiating where their limbs are
Sensory processing issues are usually recognized in children. But they can also severely affect adults. Sensory processing difficulties are typically seen in developmental disorders like autism spectrum disorder.
SPD is not acknowledged as a separate disorder. But many medical specialists think that it should be modified.
Symptoms of Sensory Processing Disorder:
SPD or Sensory Processing Disorder can affect multiple senses or just one sense. Children who suffer from SPD may overreact to food textures, sounds, and clothing. Or they may even underreact to sensory information. This causes them to need more thrill-seeking and intense stimuli. Some instances include leaping off high things or hanging too high from swings on the playground. Also, children with Sensory Processing Disorder are not always just one specific sensitivity or the other. Depending on their surroundings, they can be a mixture of under-sensitive and oversensitive.
SPD can affect one of the five senses, like taste, hearing, or touch. Or it can affect numerous senses. And certain people can be under- or over-responsive to the fixations they have problems with.
Like many diseases, the symptoms of Sensory Processing Disorder exist in a specific range.
In particular children, for instance, the sound of a leaf blower out the window may cause them to dive under the table or vomit. They might scream when you touch them. They might withdraw from the textures of particular foods. But some others seem insensitive to anything and everything in their surroundings. They may even be unresponsive to extreme cold or heat or even pain.
Most children with Sensory Processing Disorder start as overly fussy babies who become nervous and anxious as adults. More often than not, these kids don't manage change well. They might frequently have meltdowns or throw tantrums.
Many children have signs like these from time to time. But medical specialists consider a diagnosis of SPD when the symptoms have become severe enough to influence the normal functioning of everyday life and might disrupt it.
Sensory Toy Ideas:
Fortunately, in the present era of DIYs, parents can find numerous instructions, specimens, and patterns that let them make their sensory toys at home without difficulty and can have fun doing so with their SPD children.
Here are ten incredible ideas that will be a comfortable addition to your child’s sensory toys to support them with anxiety, autism, or other sensory disorders. These playthings will help your children with releasing stress and assist them in developing their senses in the comfort of your home.
- Sensory Tent:
A sensory tent is an easy-to-assemble toy and a need to have around. Some parents with SPD children call the tents a “quiet space” or a “cooling down spot.” Consider the size, noise level, and location when designing the space. Children with sensory disorders prefer small compressed spaces, navigated best by crawling in or pushing up.
Put a blanket over a small table, exactly like the forts you used to make with sheets when you were a child.
Tie a cloth around the table and leave enough of the material to drop below the table to fashion a small hammock, also known as a table hammock.
Pile pillows into a high heap to make a comfortable nest-like quiet play area.
- Cardboard Box Ideas:
Cut a circle out of a large furniture box. It should be large enough to climb through. Put blankets, pillows, and stuffed toys inside for a cozy cove.
Place a large paper or cardboard box on its side, so the top opening of the container becomes a door. Punch holes into the top of the box and insert fairy lights. A quiet place and a wonderland all rolled into one!
- Weighted Materials:
Weighted blankets are perfect for calming a child’s sensory problems. They are usually costly, but fortunately, talented DIY-ers have devised numerous ways to make them yourself at home.
Folding a heavy blanket concentrates its weight. This heaviness and thickness give almost the same comfort as a market-bought weighted blanket.
An old shirt or vest can become weightier if small rocks or curtain weights go in the pockets. You can save the piece of clothing for when your child is anxious or stressed.
You can cut a stuffed animal at the seam and have curtain weights, nuts, bolts, or any other weighty articles inserted in it. Then, sew the stuffed toy back up and allow your kid to cuddle it during stressful times.
- Tangible Experiences:
Putty items that can be squeezed and rough, bumpy objects are all excellent toys for children with SPD. Fidget Toys can advance attention and concentration on tasks because they allow the child’s brain to screen the extra sensory information. You can also make lots of sensory fidget toys from things around the house. Here are a few samples of materials and objects you can use to make sensory toys.
- A set of keys.
- For older kids, you can fill a balloon with sand and knot it securely so it can be folded, handled, and held, making it a brilliant fidget toy.
- The smooth surface of a pebble or a stone is relaxing to touch, and the curves are yet another soothing element for SPD kids. You and your child can decorate or paint the flat surface of a rock or stone.
- Homemade Sensory Activities:
Parents do not essentially need to spend hundreds of dollars to collect sensory activity materials, games, and toys, for their children. When children and parents work together to create sensory play activities and games, they share the enjoyment of building, creating, and having fun with each other. Many parents state that it is often the plainest of sensory activities that give the most delightful outcomes.
This sensory play plan may sound basic, but it is one of the activities that especially toddlers love most. Fill up some ice trays with several colored water flavors you want to use, or let your child decide. Then let the touching, tasting, melting, smelling, and joy begin. Do this with several trays, and you can even store the cubes in your freezer for whenever your kids need a cooling moment.
- Take a Sound Walk:
This activity not only gets you and your children outside but also helps calm them down. Create a page of animals or other things that make a noise and get prints so that each kid involved has one. As you and the kids walk outside, listen for sounds or noises. Listen as much as possible, specifically the noises listed on the print-out, for instance, a cat, a dog, etc. This type of sound walk intensifies a child’s sensory consciousness. Each kid can pick a colored marker they want to check off the different sounds they hear on the page.
- Dinosaur Fossil Excavation:
Another exciting but upfront activity is the fossil hunting activity.
- You can use salt dough to make the dinosaur fossils.
- Mold the salt dough into round cookie-sized pieces.
- Outline a dinosaur’s foot impression in the salt dough cookie. Or, you can shape the salt dough into the shapes of dinosaur eggs, footprints, bones, etc. Get some small plastic dinosaurs from the toy box and use them to make imprints in the dough.
- The dirt you and the kids dig in is whole wheat flour, chocolate cake mix, and crushed Oreos. Let the digging start!
- Frozen Beads in Water Balloons:
This activity is effective as it creates a sensory-motor activity. You will need a funnel, water balloons, and water beads.
- Put the frozen beads inside the water balloons using the funnel.
- Fill the balloons up with water. Water beads will expand in water and get bigger after some time.
- After a couple of hours, the sensory-laden balloons will be ready to squish and play with.
- After your kid has had enough of squishing, put the balloons in a container and into the freezer.
- Peel the balloons off the next day; the water beads will now be frozen balls.
- One exciting game to play with the ice balloons is trying to toss them into a giant hula hoop.
- They also smash pleasingly on concrete wall.
- Tearing Paper:
What could be more relaxed or more therapeutic than tearing up papers?
This activity is for children of every age. Toddlers already like tearing everything up, so they will absolutely love the idea of having lots of colored papers beside them and tearing them up as much as they want.
Older kids can rip up the papers, and use the scraps for a torn paper landscape or a collage. The touch of the paper, the vibrant colors, and the torn edges come together to create a sensory art process.
- Rainbow Dyed Noodles:
All the senses are in play with this absurdly fun game. It’s pretty easy.
- Cook a box of pasta noodles of any kind.
- Rinse the noodles after they are cooked.
- Use a different transparent bag for each color you will use.
- Put a drop of vegetable oil and several drops of food coloring in each bag.
- Seal the bags tightly and let the kids shake and squeeze them to get the color on all the noodles.
- Open the bags and air them for 10-15 minutes to ensure that the color has completely covered the noodles.
- Rinse the noodles under water to remove excess extra color.
- Play! (cut, sort, mix, feel, even paint using the noodles)