Christmas Gift toys for Sensory Seeking children

Chewy Tubes come in all shapes and sizes
Chewy Tubes come in all shapes and sizes
Picking the perfect gift isn't easy
Picking the perfect gift isn't easy

Bubbles

Bubbles are great for Sensory Seeking children
Bubbles are great for Sensory Seeking children
Bubbles provide endless fascination
Bubbles provide endless fascination
Bead Mazes are a good choice for many
Bead Mazes are a good choice for many
Bead Maze
Bead Maze
Thomas the Tank Engine Sound Book
Thomas the Tank Engine Sound Book

Chicco Butterfly Spinner

Chicco Butterfly Spinner
Chicco Butterfly Spinner

Hammock

Hammock I bought at Hammockology
Hammock I bought at Hammockology
Hammock for Sensory Integration Therapy
Hammock for Sensory Integration Therapy

Christmas Presents for Sensory Seeking Children

There is no denying that the Christmas season is now fast approaching. It is always difficult to buy gifts and many of them do inevitably end of on Ebay described as unopened, unwanted gift or maybe in a box under the bed never again to see the light of day.

So how do you get it right when it is a present for a child with Special Needs who is not necessarily interested in the normal toys? Then add to that the difficulty of finding such toys in a regular Toy Store and it all adds up to a very difficult task. The best way to purchase a gift for a child with Autism or Sensory issues is to do your research beforehand.

For the older child an area of Special Interest in usually the best place to start for some this could be a particular TV Show such as Thomas the Tank Engine, or a topic such as everything to do with Dinosaurs, or it could be a fascination with Greek Mythology or a popular film franchise such as Harry Potter or the Twilight Saga.

The younger child though poses a bit more of a challenge. Often it might be advisable to choose to items similar to sensory toys that the child might have already or to choose practical items that will help give the child sensory stimulation.

Chewy Tubes

For me I can never have too many Chewy Tubes. Today they come in all different shapes and sizes. Very often children who are sensory seeking want to be constantly biting into something in their mouths.

You may have noticed that as a toddler your child was always sucking their hands, chewing their clothes and their bibs all the time or putting anything and everything into their mouths at every given opportunity. Of course many toddlers do this as a way of exploring their environment too and it is not really that unusual in general.

But with children with Autism and always children with Fragile X Syndrome this phase tends to continue. For them it is a form of sensory relief that helps them to cope with stress and anxiety and regulate their senses. Unfortunately though it can be dangerous for them too as they could ingest anything, something may become caught in their throats and it can also lead to tooth damage. So that's why I find Chewy Tubes to be a safer and more acceptable alternative.

This excerpt on Chewy Tubes is taken from The National Autism Resources Website. More info at nationalautismresources.com

The Chewy Tube® is designed to provide a resilient, non-food, oral motor chewable surface for practicing biting and chewing skills. The Chewy Tube® can help both children and adults work on redirecting problem chewing habits or practice and chewing skills. You can feel comfortable providing a Chew Tube® to your special child or client because they are non-toxic, latex free and lead free. Furthermore, the Chew Tube® does not contain PVC or phthalates.

NOTE: Just be sure to buy your Chewy Tubes from a reputable source to make sure they do not contain any coating that may be harmful and to ensure that they meet all recommended safety standards

Bubbles

Bubbles are always a source of endless fascination for Autistic, Developmentally Delayed and Sensory seeking children and of course they are also very cheap and completely portable as well as being a good source of Sensory Input. They also come in all shapes and sizes these days but to be honest I find that the small simple bottles just as intriguing as any of the others.

There are many ways to incorporate playing with them into the child’s daily routine to help their communication along also. Any parent of a child with Autism will undoubtedly have already done their stint, waiting, anticipating and trying to encourage speech and eye contact through the use of bubbles.

There is an endless supply of bubble products to choose from and they can pretty much be picked up anywhere so don’t panic they are always there as an option.

Wire Bead Mazes and Abacuses

It was love at first sight when my son got one of these as a present. Although it was only a small one straight away it was one of the few toys I could get him interested in and this was long before his autism diagnosis. So then began my quest to find more and I found another one in a local Toy store and then an even bigger one on Ebay.

The great thing about Wire Bead Mazes is that they come in all shapes, sizes and prices. So maybe to start with you could buy a small one for less than €10 and if it is love at first sight you will then definitely know that you are on to something.

Since searching for Bead Mazes I now realize that this toy is a favorite with children in general as they are often seen in doctor’s waiting rooms, Pharmacies as well as Special Needs clinics.

Wire Bead Mazes are not just a toy though as they also help to develop both gross and fine motor skills and the repetitive action of flicking the beads over and back will give your child hours of endless fascination. Definitely worth a try.

Musical & Sound books

Books that make sounds and have attractive bright pictures are best for children with autism and if they light up too then all the better. Personally I am still searching for an ideal brand of books for my son. So far I have just picked them up here and there in the hopes that my son will like them. I get them on Amazon, Ebay and Toy Stores or Charity Shops wherever I happen to see them. As you can imagine this is a bit hit and miss. When I get it right though it guarantees hours of enjoyment and it is always worth the relentless searching.

Sunny Day Surprise – Talk, Look and Find from Thomas and Friends

Of course this book has the added bonus of also being a Thomas the Tank Engine book which most (but not all I am sure) children with Autism are particularly fascinated by. What I like about this book is that each time you press the button it asks the child to point to a different object which works on pointing skills too which are often very delayed in children with Autism so every little bit of extra input can only but help, hopefully anyway.

There are loads of other books available too on Amazon and Ebay, the best thing to do is firstly find out what the child you are buying for is particularly interested in I have found this is very important. If you buy a fabulous book with LED lights and symphony tunes you may be disappointed to find out the child in question will only read Bob the Builder books and nothing else will even be looked at.

You could be more economical still and make your own book. I did this last year as part of the Hanen – More than Words Communication Program that I took part in as part of our Autism Early Intervention Program.

I used photos of family and stuck their names underneath. Also I cut his favourite characters out of a magazine and included them. The family members were completely ignored by my son but his own favorite characters from ‘In the Night Garden,’ were a big hit so really it is often just about experimenting until you find something that interests him and this is just not easy a lot of the time.

Chicco Butterfly Spinner

Again my son still has a version of this toy and when he got it a few years ago it was an instant hit. Some of them light up and play music also which of course makes them even more intriguing to the autistic child.

Description at Website:

This is another toy that has many versions that are just as enjoyable as the last. It is fun for kids to watch the butterflies, balls or other objects spin around as the top is pressed. This version also has a mirror inside to make it even more fun to watch!

Hammock

Firstly I have to say that this Sensory Integration Therapy aid is not always for the faint hearted i.e.if like my son the autistic child that you know is extremely hyperactive, sensory seeking and has no fear of danger then a Hammock may need to be very carefully supervised.

A Hammock was suggested to me by a Sensory Integration Therapist that worked with my son. She used her hammock and other swinging devices as an ideal relaxation tool to de-stress, stimulate and calm my extremely sensory seeking son.

So at the Occupational Therapy sessions the theory was that my son would lie into the hammock and then he could be gently pushed him while the person swinging him would also sing songs and rhymes to him. Yes indeed he did love this at first and used to come out immensely relaxed. So then thanks to an Irish Company known as Hammockology I purchased my son his own Hammock for €45 at hammocks.ie

So then my better half installed it in the lounge of our Dining room which is a good spacious room and he now also loves sitting on it while watching TV in the afternoon too. However the acrobatics and amazing feats of unimaginable magnitude that my son performs on his hammock make me more certain every day that if all else fails he certainly has a future career opportunity as an acrobat.

My son has actually mastered stunts on this hammock that would put the makers of any action movie to shame. He merely laughs at me now when I suggest a nice gentle rocking motion to a children’s tune. Instead he wants to listen to a Lady Gaga tune while suspending himself in mid-air and swinging upside down. We take the hammock down when we can’t supervise it sometimes as we are now fairly sure that this hammock was not built for the purposes my son wants to use it.

Still though we cannot deny that he loves it, it gives him great sensory input and we are now certain that there is absolutely nothing wrong with his co-ordination or his gross motor skills. Also it goes to show that he sure can use his imagination to come up with ingenious new moves when he is adequately motivated to do so.

Hope my suggestions have been of some benefit to you and please do check out my other Hubs on this subject and many others. Have fun Christmas shopping this year and have a good rest on the day itself.

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Comments 2 comments

Val Swabb profile image

Val Swabb 4 years ago from South Carolina

This is a brilliant article! As an adult with Asperger's I remember many of these from my youth, (I still love bubbles, lol). My son is ADHD, and "way out of my league" (quote from his regular doctor, haven't been able to see specialists yet). He is almost 7 and wants an abacus, is he a bit too old? He had one when he was about 2/3 a very small one, we got rid of it when it started collecting dust. And I can definitely see him being exactly like your son on that hammock! Wish I had somewhere I could put one!

Anyway, thanks for the article!


thewritingowl profile image

thewritingowl 4 years ago from Ireland Author

Thanks very much for your nice comments. I don't think your son is too old for an abacus after all it was the first calculator ever used so it also has an educational purpose too! Yeah its funny too how as children with Aspergers we were drawn to the same kind of toys that are now considered to be specifically for 'Sensory Seeking kids,' and that was long before I knew that I had any Sensory issues or Aspergers.

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