8 terrific sensory toys for kids with special needs
These toys are fun for kids of all ability levels.
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As the mom of a son with autism, ADHD, and epilepsy, I can’t even tell you how much money I wasted buying toys that my son had absolutely no interest in playing with. He’s a kid that thrives on sensory input and it wasn’t until I realized that my idea of play and his idea of play were drastically different, that I was able to start buying toys that truly made him happy.
Studies show that I’m not alone, since one in six children are thought to have some type of sensory need. But kids are just kids no matter their needs, and at the end of the day they just want to play, which is what makes these eight products so perfect. Being both a toy and a sensory tool, they really hit the mark.
1. A toy that you’ll want to play with, too
There is something uniquely different about Fat Brain’s Dimpl toy, in that it’s the simplest of toys that you can’t stop playing with. A BPA-free plastic frame holds five brightly colored bubbles made of food grade silicone that gently pop in and out as you press on them. Dimpl is safe for little ones ten-months-and-up and calming enough that older children will want to use it too. Providing cause-and-effect action, Dimpl is small, lightweight, and quiet enough to stash in your car or purse for those unexpected moments when you need to entertain a kiddo who is having trouble sitting still.
2. Bounce, bounce, and away
If you’ve ever met a child with ADHD, you know that their trademark method of travel is jumping, bouncing, leaping, and hopping. And although many adults wish that we could harness that energy, it can be frustrating for special needs children who don’t have an outlet for all that movement. WALIKI Hopper Balls are the perfect fit for kids who like to bounce, because they provide the opportunity for jumping while keeping little feet from stomping around your house. Inflating in under five minutes with the included hand pump, kids sit and bounce on the ball while stabilizing themselves with the attached handle.
Available in sizes that accommodate kids as young as 3-years-old up to fully grown adults, WALIKI balls are made of high quality rubber and come in many different designs and colors.
3. Sand that brings the beach to you
Adults aren’t the only people who love the beach, especially when it comes to the sensory experience that sand provides, which is what makes Kinetic Sand so amazing. Moldable, buildable, shapeable, gluten free, and only sticking to itself, it’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. The Kinetic Sand Folding Sandbox brings an incredible sensory experience directly to your child in a portable beach-like setting. Containing two pounds of Kinetic sand, seven sand play tools, and the folding sandbox itself, your sensory seeking kiddo will be busy for hours so you can finally take a break.
4. 'Round and 'round but they won’t fall down
Spinning and twirling are one of the most common actions that kids with sensory seeking behaviors perform; which can prove to be dangerous if they get too dizzy and fall over. Playskool’s Sit 'n Spin offers the same spinning motion that sensory seeking kids desire, but with the added safety of keeping them closer to the ground while they twirl. Designed for kids 18-months up to 42 lbs., children sit on the lower disk while using the upper disk to spin themselves around to their own desired speed.
5. A swing for those quieter moments
For many kids with special needs, great playtime comes in a quieter form and that is why I love OUTREE Kid’s Pod Swing Seat. Made from 100% cotton with reinforced nylon edging and a soft air cushion at the bottom, the swing is fully breathable, holds up to 100 lbs., and can be used indoors or outdoors. Unlike other sensory swings, OUTREE’s comes with the adjustable length nylon belt needed for hanging, as well as two different types of ceiling anchors that can be used with concrete or wood. It is currently available in pink, green, or blue.
6. A wheel you can take anywhere
Not all kids enjoy physical sensory movement, and instead prefer something a bit more reserved, and that’s where Sassy’s Wonder Wheel Activity Center hits the mark. With a large spinning wheel that has three inner spinning pieces, sitting on top of three moveable rings, the entire toy is made of many different colors, textures, and patterns. Complete with a suction cup, the Wonder Wheel can be secured to a hard flat surface or simply held by hand.
7. A special toy that requires no special skills
Some kids play best when they are able to play however they want. Fat Brain Toys understands that and has created the Teeter Popper, which is a personal use teeter totter advertised for kids to “use however they choose,” and with “no special skills required.” Completely void of requiring directions to work, kids can sit, stand, spin, rock, wiggle, or wobble on the Teeter Popper, while it makes a pleasing popping sound due to the strategically placed suction cups on the bottom. Made of highly durable plastic, 28 inches long, and 11.5 inches wide, the Teeter Popper comes in three different colors and is designed to hold up to 110 lbs.
8. The perfect fit for an oral seeking kid
One of the realizations that many special needs parents come to is that playtime might look different. So it may not be about toys for your child and that’s okay. Many kids don’t need or want anything more than sensory input to make them happy, which is the beautiful thing about ARK’s Chewelry. Wearable, chewable, jewelry, Chewelry is made of medical grade materials that don’t contain lead, phthalates, PVC, BPA, or latex. Chewelry comes in over 30 different styles including a basketball or diamond pendant necklace, textured bracelets, and even a few holiday designs. With multiple colors and three different toughness levels, each piece of Chewelry is created to suit the texture and area of the mouth that makes your little chewer happy.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.