Which sensory products are best for people with autism?
This World Autism Awareness Week, we’re highlighting our favourite sensory products that have amazing benefits for children and adults with autism.
Autism isn’t a one-type-fits-all condition and each person with autism is an individual. This being said, most autistic people will experience the world differently to those who are not living with the condition.
Some people with autism have difficulty processing information they receive from their senses. They may be over or under-sensitive to sounds or noise, things they see, certain smells or tastes, or things they physically feel or touch. If sensory experiences become too much for them, an autistic person may feel overwhelmed and exhibit behaviours such as withdrawal or meltdown.
Some people with autism are ‘sensory-seekers’ and may enjoy focussing on a certain sensory input. For instance, they may really like lights and find stimulation of this sense calming, pleasant and anxiety-reducing.
Our top three sensory products for autism
Using sensory equipment may help children and adults with autism, depending on their particular needs and preferences. Here, we look at three key sensory items which have received excellent reviews from our customers and highlight the benefits they may have for autistic children and adults. All of the products mentioned below are great to use at home or school to create safe and stress-free activities that enable a person to both seek or avoid sensory stimulation.
1. Sensory Den and light-up accessories
The Sensory Den (previously known as the Dark Den) is a large, square, tent-like structure that fixes together with poles and provides a secure, safe and darkened place which some people with autism may find useful. The Sensory Den provides a calm area that can be used to help reduce the amount of stimulation for those that are sensory avoiders, or provide a safe space to explore preferred stimulation activities for sensory seekers. For example, it can be used with light-up toys and gadgets. The den and its accessories are great to use at home or at school.
Purchased for my autistic child. Was easy to set up and very dark inside for our light toys to be used. Would recommend to every child who enjoys light displays - Catherine Chalmers
2. Aroma Dough
This tub contains six soft and tactile Aroma Dough balls, each with a different fragrance. Aroma Dough is great for children or adults who like to touch and play with objects that have interesting textures, as this can be calming and stress relieving. The scents, which include bergamot, eucalyptus and lavender, can stimulate a person’s sense of smell, providing a soothing effect. The dough is made of natural ingredients including beeswax, cocoa butter and grape seed oil, so it’s safe to use (although not suitable for consumption). Watch this review video by our YouTube collaborator Katy Gough, who is autistic and seeks tactile, vestibular and olfactory stimulation. She is a big lover of Aroma Dough, as well as Vibrating Pillows.
3. Tactile Sensory Bag
This huge bag of fun resources contains over 35 items with different textures, shapes and which stimulate the sense of touch. There’s plenty to share with other children if it’s used in a school environment, and lots of variety if the tactile items are used by one person. The items each feel soft, squishy, rough or smooth, and can be calming to play with and feel. Many of the tactile items are bright and colourful too, which some children will enjoy. The bag contains several brush-like items, which a parent or carer can use (if the person they look after permits and enjoys this) to brush the skin. This ‘sensory brushing’ technique can help calm the central nervous system, which may help if a child or adult has a meltdown, needs to prepare for a potentially stressful event, or to create a restful environment before sleep.
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