The COVID-19 pandemic has given parents an entirely new set of challenges in how to entertain and educate their children while in quarantine.
These challenging times have caused great disruption in daily routines which is especially difficult for parents with children with special needs such as Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD).
A Sensory Processing Disorder is a neurological condition that interferes with the brain’s ability to convert sensory messages into appropriate motor and behavioral responses. A person with SPD has trouble receiving and responding to information that comes in through their senses.
Sensory processing involves processing and organizing sensory information from our 5 main senses: sound, sight, smell, taste, and touch smell as well as our movement (vestibular), and body awareness (proprioceptive) senses.
Sensory processing disorders can make it difficult for children to interpret sensory information accurately, react to sensory stimuli in the same way (such as smells, touch, or taste), or perform routine sensory-motor skill tasks and this can affect how a child participates in common daily activities. A child with SPD may feel overwhelmed in a certain environment. SPD will affect each child differently. Certain fabrics, clothes tags, and even a certain smell could make a child feel uncomfortable. It may affect a child meaning they trip and fall a lot. It is important to understand our child’s needs.
Sensory toys, rooms, and products and can be helpful to enhance a child’s brain development while helping them relax, stay calm, and overcome fears in an environment that helps feel comfortable! Finding the right toy or product for your child is equally important as understanding their needs.
Toys designed to help with visual SPD are artful and the designs are brightly coloured, contrast, and contain other features to promote visual interest. Suggested items that help with sight SPD are.
Classroom Light Filters Patterned by Educational Insights – These filters help create a calming work environment and are perfect for a classroom setting. They help reduce glare and flickering of lights to help children concentrate.
Silver Mark Making Sequin Long Board – These boards are visually appealing; they not only help with sight SPD but also fine and gross motor skills. As a child runs their hands along the sequins revealing a different unique colour. The boards can easily be attached to a wall.
Liquid Timer Two Colour – These timers help reduce stress and encourage refocusing. As the timer is flipped the coloured liquid will slowly pour through the timer and help a child relax.
Touch: Toys designed to help with tactile defensiveness are items that have materials that create varying palpable feels to encourage exploration. Suggested items to help with Tactile defensiveness are:
All Senseez products – Senseez has amazing products for SPD. With different types of product available varying from vibrating cushions to hot and cold touchables, their products will help relax, calm, and soothe children. These cushions not only help with tactile defensiveness but are also visually appealing helping with sight SPD. Not to mention, they are extremely comfy!
Spikey sensory rings – These rings are perfect for tactile stimulation, they can be twisted, thrown squeezed, and grabbed. These rings help children concentrate as they squeeze them in their hands and can help reduce stress by rolling the soft spikes along their arms. These rings are also visually appealing and are dishwasher safe 😉.
Stretchy Sand – This product is a lot of fun; it is unlike any other product. Solid like clay but soft like sand. Stretch it or build with it, the possibilities are endless. This sand will help with tactile defensiveness as children have fun!
Sound: Children with auditory SPD may be either hyposensitive (under-sensitive) or hypersensitive (oversensitive) to sound. It is important to get the right tools to help each child. Suggested items to help with auditory SPD are:
Sophie Lights & Dream Musical – this item is great for sight, touch, and sound SPD. The soft music combined with lights and soft feel is relaxing and will help soothe children as they sleep.
Wooden Treasure cylinders – these cylinders are great for babies and toddlers. They can be shaken, rolled, and twisted. Aesthetically appealing these rollers produce a noise that helps children with auditory SPD.
Hand Drum – This great sounding drum allows children to express themselves through sound. Making as much or as little noise as they want as often as they want. The drum also has a textured edge and comes with a drum stick to produce varying sounds.
Smell: Children who are sensitive to scents may benefit from unscented products or children may have a scent that calms and relaxes them. Finding the right aromas that are soothing or can spawn curiosity. Suggested items:
White Aroma Dot Diffuser by Relaxus – diffusers are a great product in any home. Diffusers disperse essential oils throughout the air, and these are gently absorbed through the respiratory system. Picking an aroma that a child likes and helps them relax can prompt the nervous system to transmit signals to the limbic system in the brain where emotions and memory are processed. Find a list of different essential oils here
Oral: Products designed to help children who have oral SPD can be of different types they can provide a satisfying taste through a pleasing flavor or oral satisfaction through chewing. Examples of great items to help with oral SPD are:
Chewigem Multi Colour Chubes – these tubes are a great way to safely use oral motor input to assist in minimizing anxiety and stress. Attaching these to string to make a pendant or strings on hoodies to give oral satisfaction to children who crave biting their pencils or clothing
Chewy Wrist Band – Similar to that of the chewigem chubes, this product is great for children who get oral satisfaction from chewing on their clothes. It is made of cotton and has a nice snug fit around a child’s wrist. It is a fashionable product and helps reduce stress and anxiety for children with oral SPD.
Sensory rooms provide a place for an individual with special needs to go when they are stressed or anxious. It is a safe, calm place for an individual where they can regain control of their emotions, a sensory room can also provide a low-stress, fun environment for an individual to work through their emotions and reactions to certain stimuli or when a child needs to focus. Sensory rooms do not take away their brain’s sensitivity to certain stimuli, they can train their brain to overcome its sensitivity and develop coping mechanisms that will serve them well in the world beyond their safe space.
Ideas for a sensory room:
Remember understanding what each child requires to help with their SPD is equally important as understanding SPD itself. Speak to the child and learn what they like and dislike before purchasing products to help them. If you require any help you can contact your local Scholar’s Choice or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions. See our full list of sensory products here