All these are the steps that I want you to think through when you want to invest into a sensory toy for your child. Just grab a pen and paper or even open a Google doc to work through this.
1. Evaluate What Kinds of activities your child seeks, avoids, or needs help with
- I am talking big picture. Does your child tend to enjoy calming activities such as escaping to some silent space or squeezing behind the couch? Or, how do they tend to like jumping off the couch and scaling that the furniture? Can they cover their ears a lot during the day because of sounds? Maybe they have a hard time transitioning between activities in day-care or school?
- List the sensory activities (write down “strange” or unusual activities too, because they truly are usually sensory based) you notice your child participating in, avoiding, or even having difficulty having on a regular basis.
2. Pinpoint that the Major sensory system
- There are just 7 sensory systems (find comprehensive descriptions of each of them), remember that while they are each independent, there will be a large amount of overlap and all of them work together. When one is affected, it’s common for more to be well. These systems are:
- Proprioception (Knowing where our own body is in space, activated through pressure into our own muscles and joints)
- Vestibular (Our sense of movement and balance)
- Tactile (Our sense of touch)
- For just about any one of those highlighted activities on your list from step 1, then choose 1 2 sensory systems that you think are calling for attention (i.e.: In case your child pushes to people all of the time the sensory system that features a need will probably proprioception and possibly tactile/touch.)
- Look for any patterns? Would you see one or two sensory systems coming more frequently? If this is so, you’ll want to target your search for toys that address that particular sensory system. In case you see a couple systems your child is seeking, prioritize usually the one that seems to be affecting your child the most.
- In case you don’t see a whole lot of seeking or avoiding activities, in order to find that your list consists mostly of activities your child needs assistance with afterward proprioception can be your go to. Proprioception activities are widely accepted by most kids you need to comprise: jumping, climbing, and being squeezed (such as when hugging), etc… )
3. Identify the time and environment
- Again, looking at the list you created in step 1, identify whether any one of those activities tend to happen during certain times of the day or in certain environments. For instance, you can notice that your child only jumps on the furniture thing in the morning, or maybe they only chew on their pen caps when they are in school. There is certainlyn’t necessarily a pattern; however double check to make certain you doesn’t see any correlations.
- In case you really did notice that your child is seeking or avoiding certain sensory input in specific times or in certain environments, directly that down too! Make a note should you feel your child needs a toy or program to get a particular environment for school, day-care, home, etc.. This will help you eliminate a number of options. For instance, an optional lap pad or even vest may possibly work with seeking out proprioceptive at a school setting and also a small indoor stroller would provide proprioceptive input in your home.
4. Establish your budget and dimensions
- As of this time of year, you might well be looking to get a bigger, show-stopping thing, also there are plenty of incredible sensory toys that will fit your bill. But at precisely the same time, you may possibly well be looking for many smaller supports that don’t take up as much room.
- In the end of your list, write down your budget of course, should you have any space constraints. All these are two important factors that will help you narrow down your selections.
5. Bring it all together
- On your list as of this point, you should have: sensory activities your child consistently seeks or avoids, which sensory system you think that they are trying to target, whether there was just a time of day or environment that they seek or avoid this, and exactly what your budget and size constraints are, in case any.
- Choose a couple of items that you are looking for. By way of example, you may be looking to get a sensory toy that may be used in the school to your dental system because your child chews on their shirt sleeve. Or, maybe you need a superior energy proprioceptive and vestibular activity such as a scooter board or perhaps a swing because your child is dangerously climbing objects inside your home and contains a hard time paying attention.