When people talk about the autism spectrum and sensory toys, they often think of kids. They forget that there are also adults who are facing the same issue. Adults with other types of neurodiversity, like sensory processing disorder and ADHD, can benefit a lot from sensory toys.
Sensory toys are designed to stimulate one or more senses for people with sensory disorders. These toys are very appealing to young children and adults on the autism spectrum because they help them remain calm and provide the sensory experience they’ve lacked and wanted.
Choosing the Suitable Sensory Toy
1. See What Kind of Activities the Seniors Prefer
Take a note of the few things that the senior does or avoids. For example, whether they like calming activities such as escaping to a quiet place or squeezing behind a couch, or they like to go out running and walking. Whether or not they tend to cover their ears a lot during the daytime because of sounds and things like that.
Once you know, you can then look for the right sensory toy for your loved one.
2. Pinpoint the Primary Sensory System
There are seven sensory systems in general. When one sensory organ is affected, it is common for others to get affected as well. These systems include proprioception, vestibular, tactile, vision, hearing, smell, and taste. You should choose 1-2 sensory systems that you think require attention for any highlighted activities on your list.
You can also look for patterns; if you see one or two sensory systems acting up more frequently, you should look for toys that address that particular sensory system. If you notice that the patient is seeking several methods, prioritize the one that appears to be having the most significant impact on them.
If you don’t see many seeking or avoiding activities and find that your list includes mainly the activities seniors need help with, you need to get proprioception toys.
3. Identifying the Timing and Environment
You should identify and watch for any activities performed by them at certain times of the day or in specific environments. For example, you might notice that the seniors like watching TV at noon or nighttime or going for a walk, etc.
There isn’t always a pattern but make sure you don’t miss out on any correlations. If you notice that the older person seeks or avoids a particular sensory input at specific times or in certain environments, write that down.
Make a note if you think the patient needs a toy or a tool for a particular environment, including activity time, running errands, and being at home. This will help in screening some options from the list.
4. Setting up the Budget and Size
There are plenty of incredible sensory toys that you can buy within your budget. However, you might want to look for the best kind of support that doesn’t take up much space. Don’t forget to calculate your budget and space constraints if you have any at the end of your list. These are two critical factors that will help you in narrowing down your options.
5. Pulling it all Together
At this point, your list should have all the sensory activities that the seniors consistently seek or avoid. Once you have all that figured out, the next step would be to buy the toys that would suit them and provide the much-needed comfort and relief they desire.
Make sure to have all the details jotted down regarding the habits of your senior, along with their characteristics and daily routine habits. Doing so will help them feel better and more relaxed.
Types of Sensory Toys
1. Bubble Tubes
Bubble tubes make an excellent sensory toy for people of all ages because they provide a relaxing, soothing experience with bubbling sounds and lit-up bubbles. As you can access these tubes in various ways, it is essential to know which of your needs will the bubble tube fulfill and where it will be used.
For instance, you can use the calming LED bulb toy as it is simple to use and has a variety of colored lights to create a relaxing experience for the user. Therefore, it also makes an ideal calming toy for people with autism.
2. Soft Play
Soft play equipment is extremely comforting and soothing. They provide a safe and comfortable environment for kinetic stimulation and exploration. Soft play toys like bubble tubes meet the needs of a variety of symptoms, and you should choose them based on their various properties.
You can use a multi-colored bean bag, for instance, as its patchwork effect would make it ideal for visual stimulation while also being soft and calming at the same time.
3. UV Toys
UV toys are perfect for people with sensory disorders as they encourage visual interactions and development, including hand-eye coordination, in a fun way. While anyone can use the UV fiber Optic Wall Cascade, the pivotal wall-mounted bracket make it accessible to wheelchair or standing frame users.
This helps in creating moments of tranquility as the strands scroll gently through eight colors. If you want a more portable solution, UV strands are perfect for portable and tactile stimulation. They are also ideal for adults who have sensory issues.
4. Tactile Sensory Toys
The tactile sensory toys also help the elderly interact with touch and texture. These toys help relieve stress and improve brain function simultaneously, all the while keeping them feeling soothed and relaxed. You can also use pressure mats to help improve hand and foot dexterity.
Our Top Picks
These simple, dimple fidget toys can provide an hour worth of entertainment and stress relief for autistic and other divergent people. If your senior is a fan of the sensation of popping bubble wrap but doesn’t like its nose, this is the perfect toy for them.
This keychain sensory toy is small enough, and the seniors can easily carry it with them everywhere they go. Moreover, it is discreet enough to use without drawing attention.
If you think that the bubble pop keychains are not enough for you or want something more than stimulating a whole sheet of bubble wrap, this toy is for you. If you are sensitive to sound, note that its popping is not as loud as actual bubble wrap.
This bubble wrap popping toy is portable because it’s made of silicone and can be folded, rolled, or squished into your bag. They are also easy to clean with soap and water or in the dishwasher.
If you have severe hyperacusis, then bubble wrap popping can lead to an autism meltdown.
This sensory toy is ideal for adults who need to self-soothe. These are made from high-quality custom formulated materials. They can bounce back to their original shape after stretching, pulling, twirl, wrapping, and squeezing. Therefore, these toys are ideal for providing the sensory and tactile stimulation that people with anxiety and other forms of neurodiversity require.
This magic ball puzzle is perfect for people who like to solve puzzles. This is easy and simple to use as there is one empty circle, and you need to push the colored balls around using the open space to match the color of the ball with the ring outside the circle. All in all, it is one challenging fidget toy for seniors.
You probably would have played with Rubik’s cube at least once in your life. These Rubik’s cubes are suitable for people with autism or sensory disorders. These cubes are fast, and they can also enhance the problem-solving sense for the people.
Many people with autistic disorders chew to meet their sensory needs. The silicone pen toppers might suit you if the top of your pens has become a chewed-up mess or if you are looking for an alternative to wearable “chewlery.” Chewing these pen toppers will help patients with autistic or sensory disorders to remain calm, self-regulate, and focused.
If the senior at your home is tired of playing with the usual fidget cubes and puzzles, this Shashibo fidget box is for them. It is a unique fidget box that will improve their creativity. This cube can reveal the hidden colors and make various shapes by shifting the pieces held together by rare earth magnets. They can even combine several cubes to make colorful sculptures.
The sumind squeeze bean is an adorable yet useful little fidget toy. It is great for people looking for a small sensory toy that doesn’t make much noise or draw attention. These are perfect for seniors and provide a unique sensation compared to small items like fidget cubes. It is especially beneficial for those trying to break nervous habits like skin picking and nail-biting.
Stress balls are classic sensory toys. These balls are durable and are made from 100% polyurethane material. They have a motivational quote or positive affirmations written on them, so whenever your senior is stressed, he can look at it and press it to release stress. These quotes help people on the autism spectrum to get through anxious times.
A fidget spinner is a great tool to relieve stress and anxiety. It helps in calming down people with autism. It is easy to carry and keep in a pocket. To spin it, hold it with the index finger and thumb of one hand and spin it rapidly with the other hand’s fingers.
This mega pack of sensory toys might be good for a senior new to sensory toys or who has just been diagnosed with autism, ADHD, anxiety, or sensory processing disorder. At first, it might be difficult for them to know which type of sensory input is suitable for their needs. But don’t worry, this multi-pack includes a wide variety of fidgets, allowing you to experiment with all these sensory toys and choose the ones that suit your seniors the most.
Sensory Toys – Helpful For Seniors
Sensory toys are great for people who have sensory and autistic disorders. They are designed to be very appealing to the patients and can help them in stimulating their senses. In addition, these toys help them remain calm and provide the sensory experience they lack.