Learn to Think Sensory-Friendly
Sensory-seeking kids can be a challenge, there’s no question about it. In our 20 years of parenting, we’ve had more than a few wiggly-squiggly and (dare I say?) hyperactive kids. When Adalia was a sensory-seeking toddler, we had no idea what it meant or how to help. I’ll never forget the time in church, at not quite two years old, when she was hitting herself on the head with a hymn book as hard as she could…I am thankful that now that we are raising a few more sensory-seeking kids, we have more knowledge and resources. We feel so much more prepared for helping sensory-seeking kids.
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Sensory-Friendly Bag for Our Van
After our weekend at Refresh last month, I came up with the idea of making a sensory-friendly bag to keep in our van. My kids with special needs have, well, special needs. And sometimes that means making accommodations in our home and family. This little travel bag is one way we are working to meet the sensory needs of all of our children.
What’s In Our Sensory Bag
Did you know blowing on pinwheels or bubbles is excellent for regulating breathing and for relaxation?
Did you know evidence shows that chewing gum can relieve stress and anxiety in kids?
Yes, it does and it can even improve scores in school! We do only sugar-free gum in our house. You will, of course, want to use discretion about whether or not gum is a good idea on a road trip for your particular children.
The day Apollo wore this to school the first time, I emailed his teacher explaining what it was for. She had absolutely no problem with him wearing it and chewing on it, and it has saved his clothes!
If you aren’t brave enough to add gum, try a sensory necklace. A few months ago Apollo started chewing on his shirts and I wanted to nip that habit in the bud. Enoch was a shirt-chewer and ruined more clothes than I could keep track of. I bought one of these necklaces for Apollo and one for Mordecai. Apollo’s necklace looks like a LEGO brick and he loves chewing on it and Mordecai’s necklace looks like an animal claw and is cool enough to be worn to junior high.
This Pull Stretch and Squeeze ball was my kids’ favorite. It looks like a ball, but is surprisingly stretchy and just feels so soft and squishy. Even I love holding this.
This Spaghetti Ball is squishy and stretchy and soft and slithery all at the same time. When I bought this it had a strong chemical smell so I chose to place it outside for a few days. The smell has disappeared and this has become a favorite of the kids. It is soft and squishy and stretchy and most of all…quiet! It also happens to be my favorite toy out of the bag.
This Isoflex Stress Ball is double lined with latex and filled with microbeads. It is durable and offers pleasant resistance for kids who seek deep pressure.
All of these items can fit in a small bag. We keep it in our van for long trips, short trips, and just plain difficult trips.
More Ideas for a Sensory-Friendly Bag
Consider a weighted plush animal. It is a smaller alternative to a weighted blanket. They even have ones filled with lavender to promote relaxation.
My son’s therapists have used these with him. They can be thrown, stuck to walls and windows, and be stuck together. These are perfect for travel and are in my Amazon cart just waiting for me to push the button.
Noise-canceling headphones can be a real lifesaver for kids who are sensitive to noise. We are waiting on a pair on order for my son with autism.
Do you have any sensory-seeking kids? What are your favorite tips? Have any travel ideas?