I have recently received a couple of emails asking if we would have a look at the best sensory gifts and toys out there for our younger children, so today, I am pleased to give you my Top Five Favourite Sensory toys on a reasonable budget!
We all know the importance of using sensory stimuli to help children on the spectrum communicate, tell us how they are feeling and develop a sense of language. In my experience, the use of soft lights, projection equipment and gentle music and sounds (bubbles, water fountain etc) have been a wondrous invention for help children calm, feel secure and safe and relieve stress and anxiety, particularly after a meltdown. If only we could take a sensory room around with us to help our children get through the day!
All these items I have chosen represent the toys I used for my Autistic son during his primary school into teenage years. They are all shipped from the UK and the postage and packing is FREE!
(To find out more about each one, you can either click on the title or the image to open a new window)
This amazing bit of robust kit has been one of my son’s favourite things for almost 10 years. Even after it had been thrown once or twice during a meltdown, it still worked. What was interesting was that as the motor began to become noisy over the years, it was still a piece of calming therapy for Jon. It was as if the gentle rolling noise of the motor was a part of the sensory experience. We said a humble farewell to it when Jon turned 15. He guessed then, he was a little too old for it and didn’t need it anymore. For the whole decade, this was a wonderful thing to have around. The slow motion of the fish moving from the front to the back of the aquarium was soothing, for all the family! This one pictured was found on eBay is £20.41 shipped from the UK with free postage and packing.
Years ago, I bought for Jon’s room loads of little star and planet shapes which were made out of glow in the dark plastic. On one side adhesive tab so they would stick to the ceiling. Of course, this was in the days long before I heard of the internet! These days, you can get the same starry scene effect, but now on a projection monitor. My next best calming toy is this wonderful night scene of a starry sky. Perfect to help your little snooze off to dreamland at night. Getting to sleep is a stressful thing for the parents so why not make it easier on yourself with this gadget? My son, Jon had something similar to this on his wall which he was able to tap on and off himself during the night if he woke up. This dome like light projector takes AA batteries and can be attached anywhere you need, it also has the same push on push off mechanism that your child can easily use. Cost is £10.87, free postage and packing, dispatched from London.
Probably the first toy I bought Jon during his toddler years was a fibre optic lamp, very similar to this one pictured. First making appearances in lounges during the 70’s up and down the country, these simple, high effective and durable lamps have been giving people joy for hours all over the world, no doubt. Very much like the engine sounds of the aging aquarium, the fibre optic lamp went through a noisy, yet endearing retirement yet still refused to give up its job of making Jon happy. The really cool thing about fibre optic is that your child can gently touch these little lights with no harm of heat or burning. Perhaps the only thing I would change is the fact that it is very light. The body of it is made of plastic with a small on/off switch which could be operated by your child if they are not too young. The strands are usually fastened all together and can come out in one lump so just be wary of this if you decide to buy. Otherwise, a good investment for a few quid. Cost: £13.87.
These beautiful, tactile bags of coloured bubbles I think have been around for at least 40 years. I remember having a similar version of these as a child myself, however, I believe they were slightly crudely made at the time, with thicker plastic outer coating and stiffer bubbles with limited movement. These are wonderful as they encourage hand and eye co-ordination as well as visual stimuli. Easy to handle and sturdily made, these are durable and have enough movement in the coloured bubbles as you would hope for. They also come with a timer which can help you educate your child to accomplish tasks in a certain time frame. They can be used to monitor visual progress in understanding movmement and colour. As well as soothing, they, like all of these toys, help children to learn about shapes, colours, movement and for more high functioning children; how things work, move and interact. They come in a pack of three of different colours although you won’t be able to pick colours yourself. Cost: £20.87. A word of warning with similar toys on the market. Many of these cheaper versions are shipped from China and may not have the same safety regulations as the UK. So please be aware if you are tempted to spend a lot less than £20.
This is a very interesting device, particularly because its function options are so diverse. According to the images added to the listing on eBay, it can be activated by your mobile phone so it can act as a speaker if your child likes certain music to help them go to sleep. The colours are wide and varied and can be managed also on the device. It is smaller than some customers have reviewed but over all given positive reviews. I like this because it has a timer on it so it will shut off after an hour’s play. This means that you can go to sleep with it still on but more importantly, it won’t over heat due to prolonged use. In my book, this is a thumbs up. It has simple to use instructions with clear indication of the on/off switch and is adapatable and easy to use. Cost £23.99
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