Hi everyone! Today I want to talk to you about a disorder that’s rarely officially diagnosed – mainly because it’s not harmful or life threatening, and we tend to label it as personal preferences that kids just grow out of.
But my daughter had it. Still does to some degree, but it was worse in her toddler years (she’s now 11).
Sensory processing disorder is when kids have a problem with their senses – too loud noises, tags on clothes, seams in socks, and so on. My daughter never flipped out about any of it, but she was adamant in letting me know when I got the wrong socks or that she had NO desire to attend the circus due to the loud noises.
If I bought tickets to an Elmo show? We’d go, and always have to leave because to her, it was too loud. Every item of clothing I bought for her had to have the tag cut out of it. Some kids have massive struggles – like they don’t like having their hair brushed or they rub their eyes a lot, etc. She never had any of that. But she DID have toy preferences, and I want to share those with you now.
Here are the top 10 toys for kids with sensory processing disorder from what I’ve found in my parenting:
#10 Toy for Kids with Sensory Processing Disorder
Kinetic Sand is a wonderful toy for kids with sensory disorder. It’s not messy like paints and gels – but it’s very soothing. It’s silky and soft, not sandy like at the beach where it sticks to you.
I bought us a bunch of kinetic sand and my whole family loves it. This particular kit comes with colorful sand, a box and molds. It’s a quiet toy with no loud music or lights, and it provides hours of play.
#9 Toy for Kids with Sensory Processing Disorder
People always want to buy stuffed animals for kids, and kids with sensory disorder don’t always do well with just any stuffed animal. They need something soft and if it lights up and has music, then it better be a soft glow and soft music, not startling and loud.
This stuffed teddy bear is perfect for kids with sensory disorder – it’s just like the one we bought my daughter, and the only one she tolerated well. My daughter loved the bow because it was silky, but some kids won’t, so don’t be afraid to cut it off if your child dislikes it.
#8 Toy for Kids with Sensory Processing Disorder
Stamps or general office supplies are fun for kids to play with if they have sensitivity to lights and sounds. My daughter loved stamp sets like this one, and I’d give her envelopes and paper as well as age appropriate scissors to work with.
#7 Toy for Kids with Sensory Processing Disorder
One thing that’s very soothing are toys that evolve over time. You wouldn’t think that kids would be into waiting, but when they’re watching something living and growing, they’re very patient. I bought my daughter the Butterfly Garden Kit and she loved it.
She got to watch as the worms grew, watch them cocoon and emerge as butterflies. She would feed them and talk to them and then got to release them. It was wonderful! I hung them from the low hanging light in my dining room so she could sit and watch them whenever she wanted.
#6 Toy for Kids with Sensory Processing Disorder
Little finger puppets are great for kids with sensory disorder. My daughter loved these and we’d play for hours – with her having some, and me having some as we made up stories. They’re also perfect for stuffing into your purse and using in a waiting room if you have an appointment.
#5 Toy for Kids with Sensory Processing Disorder
It sounds kinda odd, but a grocery shopping cart for kids is a great toy for younger kids with this disorder. You have to be the kind of parent like me, who is okay with your child going around the house putting things in his or her cart, and helping them see the fun in “restocking the shelves” once they’re done.
This gives them the picking power to choose what they like and leave what they don’t. Get a pad and pencil they can use to pretend they’re checking items off a list.
#4 Toy for Kids with Sensory Processing Disorder
Another arts and crafts toy that kids with sensory processing disorder love is Play Dough. Again, no lights or sounds, no messes – just smooth clay to build with using their imagination.
#3 Toy for Kids with Sensory Processing Disorder
If you want a good outdoor or physical play toy, then a Stomp Rocket is a good alternative to toys that spin, go fast or are loud – all of which a child with a sensory disorder would hate.
Although the name rocket is in the name, it’s not a noisy toy. It’s kind of like a Nerf dart and you stomp on a pad that makes it fly up in the air. All of my kids loved this toy. She would do it a lot and try to beat her previous height.
#2 Toy for Kids with Sensory Processing Disorder
Building blocks will be another great toy for kids with this disorder. They’re smooth, they provide endless hours of play, and they don’t require your child to snap them together perfectly like a Lego set would.
#1 Toy for Kids with Sensory Processing Disorder
An indoor small trampoline with handle is a great activity toy for kids with sensory disorder. I actually had one for me (for my own fitness) and my daughter loved jumping on it. She didn’t have to wear shoes or socks and could bounce at her own speed and height. It’s better than a big, outdoor trampoline where they feel more out of control.
The best thing you can do when you have a child who has very strong preferences about what they enjoy playing with is to avoid toys with loud sounds (and loud to them may not be loud to you). Avoid toys with bright, flashing lights, too.
Watch for toys that don’t feel soothing and smooth. Sensory kids love smooth, not scratchy or bumpy or irritating toys. Most kids grow out of this as they age. My daughter has a few leftover habits from sensory disorder – sock seams, tags, and she still doesn’t like loud events – but it gets better because they understand more than a toddler does.
If your child does want an electronic toy, like a cash register for instance, try to find ones with a low or off volume so that if they find it annoying, they can eliminate the sounds and get more mileage off the toy.
Does your child have sensory processing disorder? Which toys have you found work best for him or her?