MITC's Top 10 Sensory Gift Ideas
1. The Cuddle Swing
I bought this one by Southpaw used on Amazon*** for less than $100. Plus I had a gift card, so there's that. We have it anchored in the ceiling in Sky's room. He likes to sit in it and read. When he's needing some heavy input, he gets in the swing, and I push him by hitting him with a big exercise ball. It sounds barbaric, but it totally calms and reorients him. I have never seen anything quite like it.
Aside from the unfortunate name, this is a great toy. Stow had a lot of balance issues that came with his low muscle tone, and just having this lying around has encouraged all of the kids to step on it and work on their balance and strength. You can also rock on this which is always soothing for Sky. We use it indoors, so it's perfect for rainy days. Plus, it stores well.
(Spooner from Veach's, one of the best independent toy stores I've ever seen)
(Bilibo from Amazon)
We got this for Christmas three years ago when I consistently failed to convince Pink P to stop jumping on the furniture. Since she seemed compelled to jump, I figured it'd be a lot safer for my furniture and my children if we had our own trampoline. The first day we had it, I established four rules which miraculously stuck: 1) only one kid jumps at a time, 2) no toys allowed on the trampoline, 3) hold on, and 4) don't jump on to or off of it.
If a trampoline won't work, kids can also bounce using a balance trainer or one of these desk chairs with an exercise ball in it.
We also still really love our Rody for our littlest sensory seeker.
(Trampoline from Toys R Us, chair and Rody from Amazon)
5. Weighted Blanket
After years of telling myself I was going to make my own weighted blanket and stocking up on dried navy beans when they were on sale, I finally broke down and bought one of these for Sky. I mean, even if I managed to figure out how to sew a blanket in a way that kept the beans properly compartmentalized, there was no way I would be able to wash my navy beans in the washing machine. This blanket is from SensaCalm and is by far the most reasonably-priced one I found. It feels like it weighs a ton, but Sky sleeps peacefully under it. He did mention it was too hot once, but then again, it was summer and besides the weighted blanket, he also had on a fleece blanket, a quilt and a throw.
6. Bean Bag Chairs
(Bean bag chairs from Target)
We've tried all sorts of different chewing gizmos to help Sky with his obvious need for oral input. Without them he spits, blabbers, shrieks, and chews on his shirt sleeves. The problem is that he's also chewed through every chewy we've ever tried. Like these:
The one that lasted longest was this "chewelry:"
It lasted for several months. The only problem was that he liked to pull on it and flip it like a giant rubber band. He also took it off and swung it over his head like a lasso. For obvious reasons, the other kids did not appreciate being hit by his spit.
(Jigglers and Chewies from Sensory University and Amazon)
8. Granola Bars, Celery Sticks, and Gum
Obviously, you can't put celery sticks in their stockings, but for Sky, it turned out that super crunchy foods were the key to dealing with his oral sensory-seeking issues. He also totally digs the way the foods sound when he chews them. Much cheaper and more filling than the chewies. When crunching just doesn't do the trick, I give Sky 5-8 pieces of gum (enough so his mouth is full, but he doesn't choke, obviously). I can't tell you how many stockings and Easter baskets I've filled with granola and gum, but it's a lot. We've also stuffed stockings with various fidgets and vibrating toys like these two:
10. Crash Pad
This is our most recent discovery/acquisition. When we moved, we got rid of the old hole-filled couch that Sky used for deep pressure and crashing (which I think ended up being more traumatic for me than for him--I wrote about that couch here). I promised him I'd use the money we made from garage sales to get something more appropriate for his needs. This thing is basically a thick nylon square filled with those foam blocks you see in the pit at gymnastics. We got this a couple of months ago and the kids have been running and crashing into it ever since. Since it's 5 ft X 5ft, the size can be an issue, but thanks to the new playroom space it fits. Added bonus? The kids like to practice their gymnastics skills on it. (Amazon)
So that's the list. Some of these things were gifts, most were on sale, and some we just broke down and bought because I couldn't figure out a way to simulate the desired effect. Either way, since the diagnosis, we've been much more intentional about using birthdays and Christmas to get the kids things that help with balance and sensory integration. I don't know if they work or not, but life does seem slightly less chaotic. Plus, I feel better knowing the stuff we are bringing into our lives is working toward a greater good.
*** In fact, I bought most of this stuff on Amazon--what can I say? It's hard to get to the store, plus I'm a fan of free shipping.
Pictures of the chewies and vibrating toys were taken from the following websites:
All other pictures are mine.