Sensory toys provide an engaging and sensory-enriched play experience, especially for children with autism. Sensory-based play aids have been shown to help improve sensory regulation, social skills, and overall development whilst building sensory awareness and providing a calming experience for those on the spectrum, helping them to relax and focus.
What Are Sensory Toys?
Sensory toys are kids toys designed to stimulate all five senses. Not only do they create a safe sensory environment for children with autism, but they also provide a supportive sensory platform where learning happens through fun activities! Basically, it’s playtime that supports healthy development – exactly what all parents are after, and what we care about most at Alex & Moo!
In this blog, we will take a look at the benefits of sensory toys, how to use them, and some of our favourite products offered here at Alex & Moo. Along with being conducive to healthy development, all of our high-quality products are focused on sustainability and reducing our carbon footprint – a win-win for everyone!
What Are the Benefits of Sensory Toys?
Babies and kids need toys, after all, and everyday sensory play activities specifically can help children with autism develop important sensory skills. Sensory toys specifically designed for children on the autism spectrum provide key stimulation to effectively aid sensory exploration. From fidget spinners and swings to tactile and auditory tools, these products are designed with various features to aid in sensory processing and self-regulation. Not only do these toys serve as therapeutic interventions, but they can also be enjoyed as developmentally appropriate activities for fun as well as relaxation. Whether your child is actively seeking out sensory input or simply needs soothing background stimulation, sensory toys allow every child to explore their environment in a meaningful way.
Sensory toys help children with autism specifically, as they typically struggle with hyper- and/or hypo-sensitivities. These sensitivities can affect how kids respond to different stimuli, including touch, sound, spatial awareness, taste, and more. When a child is overly responsive to this type of stimulation, it is a hyper-sensitivity typically referred to as “sensory overload.” On the other hand, hypo-sensitive children are under-responsive to these stimulators.
Sensory toys come into play in an effort to help children with autism with their comfort with stimuli on either side of the coin. This helps children regulate their sensory responses and better cope with the world around them. With the right tools, it is possible to create a safe and supportive environment where your child can learn how to interpret their sensations through positive play experiences.
It’s important to note that sensory toys are not meant to be a cure for autism, nor should sensory play be the only form of therapy your child receives. However, sensory stimulation can be an effective tool in helping children on the autism spectrum manage sensory overload and learn how to better navigate their senses.
How to Use Sensory Toys?
It’s important to understand the sensory needs of the individual child before selecting sensory toys. Different sensory tools are designed with specific purposes in mind, so it’s important to look for sensory items that will provide appropriate levels of sensory stimulation and support self-regulation. Be sure to observe your child when using sensory toys, to be aware of any products with small pieces that could be a choking hazard, and make note of which sensory activities they enjoy the most. You can also talk to your child’s doctor or therapist, who may be able to provide more insight into sensory needs and how sensory play fits into their treatment plan.
Parents can also use sensory toys for both structured and unstructured play sessions. If your child is having difficulty self-regulating, sensory toys can provide a calming influence. You may also opt to also use sensory items to help ease transitions into new activities or as a reward for positive behaviour.
Our Top Sensory Toys
The Stassi brand sound books provide children with the opportunity to learn all about the animals of the woods, jungle, countryside, sea or savannah – and press buttons to hear the sounds they make!
Featuring lights and sounds, the “Shhh...Listen to the Echo” book is sure to soothe and provide a calming atmosphere for children who struggle with hyper-stimulation.
The perfect hands-on way for children to learn the alphabet! Play and learn by reading the letters, then pulling the page to find the animals hidden beneath.
Discover shapes, colours and textures through this tactile and immersive touch and feel book from Sassi.
There’s no better way for children to develop a sense of balance than through practice! This multi-purpose toy can hold up to 220kg and be used outdoors and indoors.
This toy is ideal for developing agility and stability for children and adults. Children can play while simultaneously developing important muscle groups, and teens and adults can perform exercises to build up existing muscle – it’s fun for the whole family!
Slide through the halls in style on this tummy glider! This active toy promotes children to perform push, pull, scoot, slide and spin actions while testing their momentum. Plus, it’s a whole lot of fun!
Test your child’s balance (training wheel free!) with this interactive handmade bike.
Have your child play with sound and craft a symphony of their own with this immersive musical table, featuring a xylophone, two tree-trunk drums, a butterfly-clacking castanet, and more.
Learn about the climate through this playful and detailed wooden weather station, boasting four season boards, and temperature thermometer and a moon phase wheel.
This gorgeous alternative to a plastic brick set will allow your child’s imagination to run wild – building whatever their mind can conjure up!
Inside this colourful wheel lies a marble that makes an exciting sound as children crawl and walk after the toy.
These beads are an ideal tactile toy for babies to practice their grasping, and also serve as a source of relief during teething!
This stunning, colourful puzzle allows children (or adults!) to design near-infinite graphic patterns using the magnetic pieces and board.
Attach this accessory to the Mini Flip for confident toddlers who need more of a challenge than the Mini Flip Walker.
Develop psychomotor skills, concentration and teamwork with this eco-friendly set of towering beads!At Alex & Moo, we value sensory toys for their ability to provide a valuable sensory outlet for children with autism, and only offer quality, eco-friendly products that lessen our carbon footprint! Shop our range of sensory toys today, and contact us for any further information.