School holidays can be immensely stressful with finding things to occupy the children, but throw a child with additional needs into the mix and the word stress can take on a whole new meaning! Finding toys that appeal to and stimulate our incredible special needs children has certainly been made far easier with the use of the internet and mail order shopping. With one click of the mouse, it is possible to source several online companies that have a whole array of bright and appealing toys, games and sensory equipment.
Whilst these toys are immensely valuable, especially in the special needs setting, most families would struggle to find the budget since the price tag is often not as appealing as the item itself!
Well, the good news is that you do not need to break the bank to access such equipment. With a bit of imagination, some empty containers and in some cases shaving foam (yes!), it is possible to make the most wonderful sensory toys and games that will keep your special child amused for hours and your pocket intact.
So we will address the subject of shaving foam first off! Children with special needs can love and benefit greatly from water, and whilst a hydrotherapy pool might also be out of the budget, making the whole bathing experience can be great fun with a can of shaving foam. If you spray it on the tiles of the bathroom, your child will no doubt enjoy the sensations of running their fingers through the foam and finger painting it.
Bubble blowing is immense fun too and this can be done in or out the bath. If you try and keep a mini bottle of bubbles in your bag, you have an infallible way to entertain your child in a queue of traffic or as a good way to avert a potential tantrum. This is something older siblings can join in with, and can be great way to get them all interacting together. We once filled an airport departure lounge with bubbles and everyone else seemed to quite like it too!
Fill a bucket with grains of pulses or rice and let your child delve in and enjoy the sensations. You can also hide toys and little measuring cups which will add to the fun.
Laying your child on a blanket or carpet and rolling them up in it can be an enjoyable full body experience. You can put as much or as little pressure as your child wants, and the giggles and screams of delight should tell you if it’s too much, or not enough!
These can be found all over any occupational therapy catalogue, but in addition can be found in your household cupboards with a much nicer price tag.
Bubble wrap usually lands on your doormat completely free of charge. Once you have unwrapped the item that you have paid for, you can set about giving it to your child (supervised of course!) and letting them pop away!
An old set of keys are a great jingle jangle option, but make sure they are old or spare!
Balloons are tremendous and can be filled with sand, tied securely in a knot and given to busy little hands for lots of squeezing and fine motor strengthening.
When you have exhausted the cupboards, check out your local pet store. You would be amazed at the amount of toys there that double as excellent sensory toys.
A homemade sensory room for the price of one bubble tube!
How about a lava lamp instead of bubble tube, check out second hand shops.
Glow in the dark stars can be purchased from most good toy shops.
Cloud b lights are great value and are multi sensory too.
Luminous paint - make worn out old toys glow in the dark!!
Rope lights, bubble machines and revolving disco lights/ night lights all from electrical shops.
Tinsel or kitchen foils high up on walls to reflect.
My son’s favourite ever item is one of those help for heroes’ wrist bands! He loves flicking things close to his eyes and the momentum he can drum up with one of these is remarkable. Instant sensory feedback!!!
The possibilities in creating your own box of sensory toys are endless and the benefits everlasting. Most of all, you can have great fun with it, involve all the family in the production of the toys and keep thinking outside the box. After all, that annoying little flash light you found in your Christmas cracker, might just keep your special child amused for hours!
Finally, at the end of the day when some down time is needed, the perfect place to chill out and relax can be found right inside your very own myweeteepee, and if (like me!) you are patiently awaiting our new range of teepees to arrive in stock, a home made den can be mustered up in no time with a few upturned dining chairs and a nice big sheet ENJOY!!