People with autism can find processing everyday sensory experiences difficult. These sensory differences may mean a person with autism navigates the world differently and might seek different experiences than a neurotypical person.
Sensory toys and experiences that increase or decrease stimulation help engage numerous senses or let someone focus on one sensation, functioning to support individuals to relax or concentrate. These kinds of aids can be helpful for both children and adults with autism who are hyper-sensitive or hypo-sensitive to stimulants.
As an activity centre that offers autism-friendly holidays, we understand how important it is for people with autism to feel in control of their surroundings. Our accessible facilities include a sensory room that provides different sensory toys and a safe space to get away from overwhelming stimulants.
What are Sensory Toys?
Sensory and receptive toys are designed to help you fully engage with one or more senses in an enjoyable way. This includes stimulating:
- Bodily Awareness
They are especially useful for children with autism who are learning how to respond to different sensory experiences, supporting both physical and cognitive development. Toys or tools like this can also be helpful with adults with autism as they can provide something to focus on and control when the outside world seems overwhelming or chaotic.
A sensory projector can create displays of lights, colours, patterns and images, helping you create a safe, controlled space with ambient lighting.
Depending on an individual’s response to light, this could be relaxing or exciting. Light projectors or even more simple colour torches offer an immersive but calming experience, making them especially useful tools for sleep routines.
Bubble machines or regular bottles of bubbles make great multi-sensory toys that can pique the interest of people of all different ages.
Not only are bubbles intriguing to look at, with their sheen of colours and wobbling shapes, but having fun with bubbles also creates the opportunity to incorporate some games.
Games could include popping as many bubbles as possible in a given time, blowing the largest bubble or following the bubbles until they pop.
Sand & Slime
Things like sand and slime are great for those that are intrigued by different experiences with touch. Playing with new textures offers a varied sensory experience that individuals can explore at their own pace.
Playing with kinetic sand or slime can be both relaxing and offer an outlet for creativity. As many of these products are available in bright colours or with different themes, they can also appeal to visual senses.
Fidget Cubes & Spinners
Fidget toys come in many forms, whether it’s a puzzle cube, light-up fidget spinner or any other small hand-held toy that has moving parts or enticing textures.
A small fidget toy is ideal to occupy those that are prone to distraction or individuals who like to keep their hands moving.
Fidget toys can be useful for both children and adults as many find them relaxing and provide a distraction from overwhelming sensations.
Sensory rings work in a similar way, distracting individuals and occupying their hands when they want to channel energy into something kinetic. You’ll find various kinds of sensory rings, with discrete, wearable rings that offer interesting textures or larger rubber rings to play with.
Wearable rings will often have small moving parts that will easily keep anxious hands busy and calm those who enjoy repetitive patterns and movements.
Colourful & Interactive Books
Books with vibrant colours and dynamic pictures appeal to anyone who likes to be visually stimulated.
Some books will have different textures and other interactive elements to intrigue and delight the reader’s tactile senses.
Some authors have written books specifically aimed towards children and adults with autism, helping them make sense of their sensory differences or other experiences or presenting relatable accounts of everyday situations.
Rainmakers can offer visual and auditory stimulation. These fun toys are often colourful, with lots of vibrant beads inside that individuals can watch fall and dance as they make soothing rain sounds.
The consistent, white noise-like sound produced by rainmakers can offer a preferable audible experience for those that are too overwhelmed by loud or intricate music where lots of different sounds are present.
Musical instruments are incredibly varied, so they will offer countless auditory experiences with the opportunity to explore different sensations. Research has indicated that music stimulates both hemispheres of the brain, making it a useful therapy tool for people with autism.
As music doesn’t necessarily require the use of spoken language, engaging with different instruments can encourage those who struggle with verbal communication to find new ways to express themselves.
Those that take comfort in noticing patterns may also enjoy the inherent rhythm and counting in music.
Swings & Climbing Apparatus
For some, the act of moving their body and feeling different physical sensations can be soothing and helps relieve overwhelming thoughts or feelings.
Swings or climbing apparatus in the garden can be great tools for this and will help provide hours of fun while spending a bit of time outdoors.
Here at Calvert Exmoor, our giant swing activity provides an exhilarating sensory experience that will get guests moving in new ways. Our adaptive harnesses ensure everyone feels safe and supported, allowing them to focus on building confidence and having an amazing time!
Sensory Blackout Tent
Sometimes someone with autism may feel overstimulated and unable to process lots of things going on. This is when controlling sensory input can be incredibly useful.
A blackout tent or even a room catered to the sensory needs of an individual provides a place where they can retreat without the fear of becoming overwhelmed.
A tent or retreat like this can be customised to each individual and made extra comfortable with weighted blankets or other personal items that bring peace.
Providing adventure holidays that are accessible to all is at the heart of what we do here at Calvert Exmoor. Our activities are adapted to the needs of each individual, so people with autism and disabilities can enjoy their time with us to the fullest.
To book your adventure break, get in touch with our wonderful team!