The Benefits of Sensory Toys for Children with Autism
Heather is a play advocate, educator and a marketer currently International Brand Manager, Edx Education.
She has lived and worked all around the world in Australia, Singapore, UAE and now the UK with her family. Heather completed her Masters in Business & Technology and originally trained as an elementary teacher. Right now she enjoys working with a team to develop educational toys for children to spark their imagination and learn from one another.
Currently hosts a podcast: ‘Education Experts with Edx Education’ Education is evolving in the unconventional time join Heather Welch, Edx Education chatting with Teachers, Psychologists, Parenting & Teaching Influencers, Authors, Creatives and so many more talented expert to keep up with the trends and what’s happening around the globe.
Edx Education in conversation with experts for home learning, school readiness, being creatives, hands on learning or as we like to say ‘Learning Through Play’, changes in education and discussing whats next? We have spoken with many educational experts, founders of charities, award winning author, international presenters, expat parents and so many more. https://edxeducation.podbean.com
Heather has written many play articles and advice around the world, Edx Education have a play blog on the website, podcast, games & videos and free downloadable resources for home learning in the teachers/parents section head over to Edxeducation.com/teachers/parents. Let’s play and learn together.
Playing with sensory toys help:
- Reduce stress levels
- Improve self-awareness
- Refine gross and fine motor skills
- Learn cause and effect
- Improve communication skills
- Develop social skills
- Increase self-confidence
Autism is a disorder that is characterized by difficulties in social interaction, verbal, and nonverbal communication, as well as repetitive or restricted behaviors. Children and adults with autism can have sensory processing issues, which may make other people feel that they are not present, or in the moment.
Sensory toys help children on the spectrum because they can help them focus and pay attention, plus they can also help relieve some of their stress and anxiety making them relax, focus, and calm. Sensory toys are gaining attention as many parents and therapists are reporting positive results – while these toys have been around for a while, they have never been so popular.
What are sensory toys?
Sensory toys are objects that are used for tactile stimulation. They offer a tangible way for kids to interact with their environment, which helps them learn about the world around them. Sensory toys are made for children with special needs, but they work great for all kids.
Under the umbrella of sensory toys are proprioceptive toys, which are designed to help children strengthen their muscles and bones, as well as develop good posture, balance, and coordination by engaging their bodies in play. Some sensory toys for kids have smooth or soft surfaces which will promote calm and eliminate anxiety. Please note that due to some sensory toys containing small parts, not all are suitable for children ages 3 and under.
Why do children with autism need sensory toys?
Children with autism spectrum disorders face an array of challenges, which include difficulty communicating, interacting, and learning. Sensory integration is one of the most important skills for those with autism to learn because it helps them to better understand their environment and become more aware of their emotions.
Playing with several types of sensory toys help to stimulate the five senses (touch, smell, taste, sight, and hearing), providing sensory input, which is necessary for the brain to process information. Fidget toys are often recommended by occupational therapists, especially stress balls, because they provide the right amount of sensory input.
What are good sensory toys?
Vibrating toys, pillows and blankets provide tactile stimulation and can allow their user to experiment with the feedback that the item has against their body. They can also be extremely helpful with sleep routines due to the pressure from the vibration and the weight of the blanket. Weighted blankets are also good for children who tend to be light sleepers.
Children who have a sensory processing disorder often seek oral stimulation especially when they are overstimulated. Sensory chew toys are hand-held objects that are made with safe materials, such as non-toxic fabric or silicone. They provide sensory stimulation for children with autism, and they come in a wide range of textures; some are smooth while others have ridges and raised patterns.
Some of the best sensory toys are already in your home. Bubbles are great for children with autism and sensory issues because they are soothing. Water play is also great for kids with sensory issues; if you have a bathtub, you don’t even need to buy any toys. Just fill your tub with warm water and a few drops of dish soap and let the bubble fun begin! Water is a great sensory activity and stress reliever.
You can make homemade play dough, which can be used as a fun and relaxing activity. Or, you can make some homemade sensory bottles and grab a few of your child’s favorite things, such as beads, rocks, and even objects from nature, such as leaves and tree branches, and place them in the bottle.
Remember that sensory activities will have positive benefits for children, not just those diagnosed with (or displaying indications of) autism.
For home learning toys for different age groups, developmental stages, and abilities, visit Edx Education.