Having a young child with sensory issues has proven to be quite challenging when it comes to playing. Matthew generally prefers to play on his own and not in a functional way. However in order to encourage Matthews ‘Fine & Gross Motor Skills’ as well as his ‘Social Skills’, we have had to buy some specific types of toys and other objects.
So here is a list of Matthews current favourite Sensory toys & Games:
Spiky Light Up Ball
This is great for a couple of reasons. Matthew loves a ball. He loves playing with footballs, beach balls, light up balls etc… But this one in particular satisfies his sensory needs because of the prickly texture of it as well as the fact that it lights up when thrown against a hard surface. He also enjoys putting this in his mouth, as he does with most things (another sensory issue). I’d say out of all of his toys, this is up there with his absolute favourites!
This toy is battery operated and is a self rolling motorised ball which makes lots of sounds as well. Not only is it just a fun toy for Matthew to play with, but it also encourages the development of his gross motor skills. The combination of the sounds, colours and movement of the ball makes this a winner in Matthews eyes!
These are essentially a bigger version of Legos. Because of their size they are easier for younger children to hold in their hands. The purpose of these toys are to increase the development of fine motor skills, however this is an area in which Matthew is really lacking for his age. He can hold them and throw them, but he doesn’t understand the actual purpose of them. Nevertheless, he enjoys playing with them and we will continue to encourage him to play with them in a constructive way.
Matthew has only recently began to enjoy playing with bubbles. Before he was very wary of them and didn’t like the feeling of them on his skin. He is still somewhat funny about that aspect. However, myself and his Special Needs Group have persevered with the use of bubbles and he has definitely come round to them. These are a great tool for calming sensory challenged children. They encourage visual tracking skills as well as developing hand/ eye co-ordination. He is not anywhere near ready to hold the wand and blow the bubbles, but he does enjoy watching them and that’s good enough for now.
Like the bubbles, this has been a challenging one. Matthew is very uncomfortable with certain textures and this definitely falls into that category. We have persevered though and once he gets used to it he becomes quite content. Again, the colours are great for grabbing his attention and painting encourages his creativity. We try to do this at least once a week.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Finger Puppet Book
Matthew has loved these types of books since he was a small baby. He has a wonderful and varied book collection but when he was a small baby there wasn’t much point in reading him proper stories as it wasn’t very stimulating. So we picked up a few puppet books and he just fell in love with them. The interaction with the puppet and the soft plush material still makes him giggle like he did when he was tiny. Whenever I see a puppet book I always pick it up.
So Matthew is pretty non-verbal at the minute. He babbles and makes other sounds, but generally he doesn’t speak actual words. We discussed baby sign language with his Speech & Language Therapist, but came to the conclusion that it would be in vain as Matthew finds it difficult to make eye contact. Therefore I though Flashcards might be helpful. I say the word and show him the picture. We have only been working on these first 3 cards so far as I don’t want to bombard his little brain with too much too soon. But he definitely knows what I’m saying and it makes him laugh when I repeat the words over and over.
I have sung to Matthew since he was in an incubator. He knows my voice better than anybody else and so while he has grown, so has the collection of songs and nursery rhymes I have sung to him. His current favourites include ‘The Wheels On The Bus’ and so when I seen this the other day I just had to buy it. Not only is it another beautiful book to add to his ever-growing collection, but it is a pop-up. He just loves the colours and the exciting illustrations. This is Matthews favourite way of playing.
I hope this has been helpful for anybody with a Sensory Challenged child. It really is difficult trying to figure out the best toys to stimulate their little brains and not overwhelm them. There’s always room for improvement and as we progress with Matthews diagnosis I’m sure there will be additional toys and games thrown into the mix. I will definitely update the blog with anything else I find helpful.