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Sensory-seeking kids can be a challenge. 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, that we have more knowledge and resources.
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.
Here are the contents of the bag: gum, mini pinwheels, spaghetti ball, Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty, Isoflex ball and Pull, Stretch and Squeeze ball.
Did you know blowing on pinwheels or bubbles is excellent for regulating breathing and for relaxation?
I chose to put pinwheels in my bag because they don’t make a mess or noise, but bubbles are also a great tool. And in Apollo’s case, it helps him strengthen his lungs and practice for those tricky lung-function tests!
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. I love the new Extra® 35-stick pack. The gum comes in a durable, recycled packing and holds enough gum for even my crew. Enoch actually saves these and has his office supplies organized in them!
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 looks like a LEGO and he loves chewing on it and Mordecai’s looks like an animal claw and is cool enough to be worn to junior high.
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!
This spaghetti ball is a great sensory tool. When I bought this it had a strong chemical smell so I chose to place it outside for a few days. It is now fine and 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 stress ball was my kids’ favorite…I kept having to hide it so I could take pictures….This looks like a ball, but is super stretchy and just feels so…soft. I love holding this.
Mordecai making his “hulk face” while squeezing the IsoFlex ball. What a goof!
All of these items can fit in a small bag and will be used for van rides…and hopefully keep little hands busily engaged, instead of poking at nearby siblings.
More ideas for packing a sensory-friendly travel bag:
A smaller alternative to a full-sized weighted blanket.
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 cancelling headphones can be a real lifesaver for kids who are senstive 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?