Sensory Aids are a great boon to anyone directly affected by autism, Alzheimer’s, ADHD, anxiety or sensory processing disorder (SPD). Sensory aids provide input for touch, smell, taste, sight and hearing to either help concentration or promote calm.
Sensory Aids Currently Available At Assurance Mobility
There are many different types of sensory aids, each designed to help children and grownups alike who find it difficult to process some world environments or situations that they find overwhelming. For someone not suffering from a sensory condition a playground in a local park looks like a great adventure, but to a child suffering from either autism or ADHD, the playground can be a noisy, terrifying place. Sensory aids that give a familiar repetitive feedback provide a focal point anchor that the child can concentrate on to help process and deal with the stimuli that the environment is supplying.
|Touch||Squeeze stress toy, fidget spinner, ball pool, weighted blankets, weighted clothes|
|Chew||Chew tags, chewable bracelets, chewable necklaces, chew toys|
|Visual||Light projectors, light tables, bubble tubes, lava lamps, simple torch|
|Auditory||Musical instruments, noise emitting toys, Lullaby star cube, sounds dial, ear protector headphones, white noise machines|
Tactile, Touch Sensory Aids
Fidget and tactile toys can help autistic and ADHD children concentrate in the classroom, helping them focus on the tasks at hand. Objects like fidget toys or squeeze balls require direct and constant interactive touch, an exercise that is automatic and requires little concentration and keeps the child’s hands busy, but provides a physical engagement that may promote the focus needed in the classroom or other learning environment.
When choosing a fidget toy to help in the classroom, be sure that it is a tactile only toy that makes no sound and has no type of visual effects attached to it that may disrupt other students or distract the teacher.
Weighted blankets, weighted clothing and weighted lap pads can provide a feeling security which in turn helps to comfort and project relaxation and calm. Adults and children who are finding it hard to get a full night’s sleep can often benefit from a weighted blanket.
Tactile sensory aids are a great way to desensitise children with sensory issues, to the environmental overload that can sometimes come from being outside. This is especially important if you are finding it hard to engage in day to day living outside the home( example ) due to your child’s sensitivity to external stimuli. Fun touch sensory aids used in known safe space help promote an acceptance of new experiences that exist outside the home.
Chew Toy Sensory Aids
Most of us chewed things in class whilst concentrating on the lesson the teacher was delivering (usually a pen top or the end of a pencil) and this was because chewing can aid focus. For children with autism or children who suffer from ADHD or SPD, the act of chewing has greater benefits than just aiding focus; it can also help to reduce anxiety, relieve stress, reduce fear and help to promote calm.
If you find your child is constantly chewing on their clothes, their zipper tops, pens or even their hands, they are actively participating in Self-Stimulatory Behaviour through their chewing and it may be an indication that they could benefit from using a sensory chew toy. Sensory chew toys are a tailor made to deliver the correct texture and durability that will make them a preferable option to your child than alternatives such as clothes and fingers, or small hard objects that may be unclean or present a choking hazard.
Sensory Chews come in many forms, from stand alone toys, to chew tags and chewable jewelry such as necklaces and bracelets. It is important that the chew toy is within easy reach for whenever it may be needed so clipped to a zipper or worn around the neck or wrist is ideal.
Visual Sensory Aids
Visual sensory aids such as lights can have a positive effect on people who have ADS. Soft coloured light can have a soothing effect and help promote a feeling of calm and inner well being.
All peoples moods are affected by lighting, but none more so than those on the autisitc spectrum. Simple mood lights shining on a blank wall can help colour a room in a way that helps set a gentle atmosphere, and if the colour and brightness can be changed, then all the better.
Interactive lights that promote play or help to train the eye to focus are encouraged; lava lamps, fibre optic lamps, light tables, plasma balls are all great choices. Each person reacts differently to the visual input, take a bubble tube for example: some will find the lights and the bubbles calming, whilst others will be stimulated by them.
Colours play an important part in any lighting area you may set up. Soft pastels help to calm and the colour blue is known to help stimulate creativity. Add some gentle music and some soft tactile toys and you are on your way to having a room that looks and feels both welcoming and safe.
Auditory Sensory Aids
Auditory Sensory Aids & toys are a great way to desensitize children who are adversely affected by sound. Some children with ASD or ADHD or SPD are over sensitive to certain sounds and volumes. Whilst the obvious remedy for this is sound dampening in the form of ear muffs (and is a good short term solution) there is evidence that ear muffs can increase your child’s audio sensitivities as their ears are never challenged by everyday sounds.
Whilst ‘Exposure Therapy’ is a proven way of helping a child cope with and accept a sound that they find distressing (Exposure Therapy involves placing your child at a distance from a distressing sound source that they find comfortable and then slowly, over a number of sessions, moving the sound source closer until full acceptance is realised), it is not alway convenient or practical to practice. A complimentary treatment to Exposure Therapy is Auditory Sensory Aids.
Letting your child interact with auditory sensory aids or play with toys that emit certain sounds is a fun way to expose them to sounds and tones and volumes that are not a part of their usual day to day life.
Musical instruments are a great start. Musical instruments that allow your child to set their own volume are best. Anything that can be played softly but has the ability to be played loud is ideal, so a flute or recorder would be a good start, also toy guitars or electric keyboards with volume controls are great too. Throw a child’s karaoke machine into the mix (with volume control) and you may find your budding star is happy to turn up the sound.
Sound producing toys are also a good way to introduce new sounds and volumes, from bell houses to soft toys to random sound generators and animal noise makers. The more varied the better, sound and volume acceptance through play is a great way to reduce auditory sensitivity.
For those times of high tension when calming rather than stimulation is required, use a purpose made device that produces melodic soothing sounds like a Lullaby star cube or a soothing sounds dial. Relaxing mood sounds accompanied by soft pastel lighting can really help in times of high stress.