Christmas is on its way and this top 10 list can get you squared away for the holiday season.
Gifts can be tricky for kids like my son Dylan. Sure, they like all the same things that other kids do but when their world already seems overwhelming, a calming sensory-activity based toy is really what they crave. Think simple. Check out these top 10 gifts for your sensory seeking child.
1. Water Beads. These things are amazing. They start out as tiny little beads (about the size of a tip of a pen), but when you soak them in water for 4-6 hours, they expand to marble-looking bubbles. This will probably be one of your child’s favorite gifts because it is so unique.
2. Rice bucket with small toys. Just go to the dollar store and pick up a cheap shoe box container. Grab a (big) bag of rice and a few trinket-like toys. Dump the bag of rice in the shoebox container and hide the toys in the rice. This activity will keep your child busy for a long time.
3. LEGO lunchbox. This one is awesome. Do you have any old-school lunch boxes lying around? The tin ones that your kids like to play with? Take a LEGO base, score it to fit the inside lid of the lunchbox. Super Glue this down. Add a few LEGO pieces inside the box. Voila! Your child now has their very own LEGO lunchbox to play with at home or on-the-go.
4. Moon Sand. Hands-down one of the best sensory-based activities you will ever come across. Moon Sand can be bought pretty much anywhere. All major retailers carry it so plan on spending around $10-20 for a nice sized kit. Moon sand is similar to playdough but it feels like sand. When you pick it up with your hand, it falls through your fingers just like sand does but without the mess. This is also great for hiding toys in.
5. Playdough. A family favorite. Children with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) like the way playdough feels because it is relaxing. The feeling of squishing something and molding something into whatever your imagination will come up with is such a soothing activity for really anyone but, especially those who have a hard time processing things around them.
6. Stress ball. A simple stress ball is great for children with anxiety. This is also an ideal ‘tool’ to have in your child’s classroom. His teacher can store it in her desk and when she sees that your child is starting to feel overwhelmed, stressed or fidgety, she can give him the stress ball. This is a great way to get the child to refocus their attention without making a big deal about it in front of the rest of the class.
7. Balloons. This was one I had never thought of before but my son’s occupational therapist used it in one of his sessions. Buy a bag of regular old balloons. Blow them up. Let your child toss it in the air, swat it around and watch his face light up with a smile. Better yet, join in on the fun and take turns hitting it back and forth with each other.
8. Gum, lollipops and Tic-Tacs. These would make great stocking stuffers. They are small, practical pieces of candy that help with oral stimulation. I use these all the time with my son when he is having a hard time focusing. Whether it be him being hyper, moody or a little bit of both, he knows he can go to the pantry in our home and take one of these items whenever he needs to.
9. Electric toothbrush. There are so many cool toothbrushes out there for kids now. Chances are, your child has already shown you (and begged) for that new Barbie or Superman toothbrush. Use this as an opportunity to teach them about the right way to brush their teeth and invest in a quality, electric toothbrush. These are great for making sure your child is brushing their teeth for the suggested two minutes and the vibrating of the toothbrush head helps children actually feel the process of what they are doing.
10. Seamless socks and tag-less shirts and pants. Clothes can feel like the end-all be-all for children with SPD and most families steer clear of asking friends and family to buy clothes for their child for Christmas because what feels good one day for your child, doesn’t always feel good the next day. But, chances are, your child’s wardrobe consists of primarily seamless and tagless items. Under Armor is a great brand because there are no tags on their clothes. Seamless socks can be found online and look for elastic-free pants so that your child doesn’t have to worry about getting their pants to ‘feel right’.
Meagan Ruffing is a parenting journalist, author, and speaker. She always has an arsenal of sensory-based activities and toys tucked away in her pantry. Follow her on social media to find out the latest information and tips and tricks on how to make your life easier with a child who has special needs.
Visit her at www.meaganruffing.com.