Caring & Sharing
Here in our 'Caring & Sharing' you will find a whole array of information, ideas, tips, and subjects covered, all collated from our years of specialising in sensory work and products. We hope you may find some of these helpful in your quest for information and answers.
We still have so much more information to develop here - so please join our Mailing List, Like Us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter - so that you don't miss out on our news and special offers. And equally please do keep intouch - as we always love to hear from you - please share with us your own experiences, ideas, and tips - so that together we can build an online sensory community for everyone, and make a difference.
Benefits of Sensory Activities
Sensory Play For Children
Help to unlock their full potential… Sensory Toy Warehouse is a treasure trove simply bursting at the seams with exciting and inspiring sensory toys, resources and equipment, providing opportunities for actively engaging babies and children in sensory play, which is an essential opportunity for development, growth and learning.
All learning takes place through our senses. Sensory toys and activities help children with special needs to develop whilst having fun, as they are enjoyed more than the standard toys designed for children who find pleasure from imaginative play. From sensory-seekers craving stimulation, to tactile defensive individuals who avoid touch and different sensations, sensory play generates a child’s sense, helping them to process information, and awareness of their body and the world they live in.
Whether to satisfy sensory seeking behaviour, stimulate a withdrawn child who has shut down in order to cope, or calm an overwhelmed individual who has gone into sensory overload and meltdown, sensory play experiences can help an individual to deal with stress. Sensory experiences can help to promote a sense of calm and relaxation, they can motivate, reinforce positive behaviour, or redirect negative behaviour.
Sensory toys that respond to the slightest sound or touch give great feedback and encourage communication skills. They can be effective in engaging the individual, encouraging participation, interaction and connection. Children who love to fidget will love the input they experience from our tactile toys, enabling them to focus, process, and learn. Sensory toys invite opportunities to engage different motor movements and skills, which can be beneficial in the playful challenge of learning control, and importantly self-control.
A more balanced state of mind and body can make a profound and positive difference in how a child experiences the world, enhancing skills, promoting confidence and self-esteem, and providing the well-being needed to learn, play, socialize, and perform everyday activities, and essentially lead to a more fulfilled, worthwhile and happier quality of life.
Sensory Activities for Adults & the Elderly
Get to the heart of who they are... Sensory Toy Warehouse is a treasure trove simply bursting at the seams with interesting and inspiring sensory toys, resources and equipment, providing opportunities for actively engaging adults, the elderly, and people living with dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or following a stroke or brain injury, in meaningful and enjoyable person-centred activities.
Participating in activities is essential in the balance of physical and mental well-being of a person living with dementia, and thereby quality of life, reducing levels of depression, challenging behaviour, falls and dependency. Colourful, interesting and fun, our sensory products draw on the long term memory, triggering treasured memories, and a combination of skills including cognitive, physical, social, emotional and sensory skills.
With our extensive choice of age-appropriate and stage-appropriate resources, including reminiscence, nostalgic and classic past-time toys, games and activities, these purposeful, and very often entertaining and amusing, activities help to promote a sense of well-being, achievement, success and independence at all levels.
Sensory activities open a window of opportunity for communication and connection, promoting participation and social skills, improving mood, and reducing agitation, anxiety, boredom and apathy.
Ideal for the challenges faced by Activity Co-ordinators and Occupational Therapists, and meeting the needs of families, professionals, care facilities and communities, our sensory delights stimulate all of the senses, and essentially lead to a more fulfilled, worthwhile and happier quality of life.
A Sensory Diet
”What is a sensory diet?”… A sensory diet is a term used for sensory integration activities that can help a child or adult get in tune with their sensory needs, enabling them to focus, process, learn, and often also providing general physical comfort. A more balanced state of mind and body can make a profound and positive difference in how a child or adult experiences the world, enhancing skills, and providing the well-being needed to learn, play, socialize, perform everyday activities, and live up to their full potential.
All learning takes place through the senses… We all know our 5 senses; sight (vision), sound (auditory), touch (tactile), taste (gustatory) and smell (olfactory), but we actually have 7 senses. Movement (vestibular) and body awareness (proprioception), are just as, if not more, important for children and adults with special and additional needs. You will find the categories in our shop are listed according to the 7 senses, enabling you to search for a product which will specifically benefit the sense you wish to address, whether it be to encourage increased tolerance, or to satisfy a demand or need for sensory input.
The magic ingredients for a sensory diet... Sadly, there are no magic ingredients for a perfect sensory diet, as each and every one of us is wired differently, and we’re each totally unique in our sensory intolerance and preferences, to a matter of degree. Therefore a sensory diet has to be developed through observation, practice, and a certain amount of trial and error, learning to work with the individual’s over-sensitivities and under-sensitivities to each of their 7 senses, until they are in tune to their unique sensory needs, which will develop a balance of the level of stimulation at which they function best, and empower them to tackle all of life’s different challenges. Finding acceptable ways to develop their own ability to tolerate and integrate sensory stimuli should be done working with a professional. However there are many sensory activities and exercises that can be done at home, so you can learn to carry out their sensory diet, and they in turn can learn to recognise their own sensory needs. Much patience is needed, whether to satisfy sensory seeking behaviour, stimulate a withdrawn child or adult who has shut down in order to cope, or calm an overwhelmed individual who has gone into sensory overload and meltdown.
We all get bored, so keep things fresh by trying different activities, and using different toys and products. Try to develop empathy to how the individual experiences their unpredictable and chaotic world, and what they’re struggling with. It is quite normal for a person to get annoyed and distracted, both about their environment and their own body’s response. Never force anyone to do an activity, slowly work toward tolerance of it. Sensory Integration work can also benefit many children and adults who are agitated, anxious, distracted, and irritable, and who appear to have behaviour issues.
“What is the difference between Over-sensitive and Under-sensitive behaviour?”… Typical over-sensitive and under-sensitive behaviour to the sense of touch, sight, sound, movement, taste or smell can be recognised in children and adults by one or all of the following:
Over-sensitivity: Too loud, inappropriate high arousal, tendency to ‘fight or flight’, block out/withdraw/ tune out/shy away, avoids physical touch and tactile input, unsociable.
Under-sensitivity: Passive, slow reactions, not active, no arousal or register, excessive physical contact, licking, touching, inappropriate or too forceful, biting, hitting, touching everything, breaking things , craving attention.
However, please be aware that behaviours from both sensitivities can differ greatly at times, and even appear to be the opposite of what they are! Confused?... Please speak to your professional who will have years of experience in identifying specific sensory needs.
Special Needs & Conditions Glossary
We appreciate that sometimes it can be incredibly difficult to know which sensory items are suitable for someone with special needs or conditions, especially if you don’t know their sensory preferences and tolerances. There’s a staggering array of diagnoses, ranging from physical, medical, behavioural, learning and developmental issues. You may not know which sensory products they already have, what they need, or what is appropriate. You may find it useful to also refer to our 'Condition Specific' cateogory which have specially selected products from our most popular favourites for each condition. Whether you’re seeking sensory products for a specific condition, purpose, diet or individual - each item has been specially selected for its specific sensory qualities and benefits. If you really don’t know where to start - we’ve done all the hard work for you! Perfect for Starter Kits.
Keep in mind, that as each and every one of us is wired differently, and we’re each totally unique in our sensory intolerance and preferences, to a matter of degree, a sensory diet has to be developed through observation, practice, and a certain amount of trial and error, learning to work with the individual’s over-sensitivities and under-sensitivities to each of their 7 senses, until they are in tune to their unique sensory needs, which will develop a balance of the level of stimulation at which they function best, and empower them to tackle all of life’s different challenges. Much patience is needed, and we all get bored, so keep things fresh by trying different activities, and using different sensory toys, products and activities. Never force anyone to do an activity, slowly work toward tolerance of it.
What is “Special Needs”?
"Special Needs" is an umbrella underneath which a staggering array of diagnoses can be wedged. It can range from medical issues, behavioral issues, learning difficulties and developmental issues.
Apraxia can leave a person unable to put together the correct muscle movements to perform movements or tasks, and Verbal Apraxia can leave a person unable to speak correctly and consistently.
Asperger’s Syndrome (As)
People with Asperger’s Syndrome have particular difficulties with social interaction and abstract concepts. They are often reliant on fixed routines and may find small changes to these routines distressing. They also may find social and cultural ‘rules’ difficult to understand, and so can often misinterpret intentions, behaviour and conversations of others.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a behavioural disorder which is characterised by poor attention, distractibility, hyperactivity and impulsivity. Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is closely linked but with less hyperactivity present.
The term Autism describes a variety of symptoms. It is often characterised by difficulties with verbal communication, understanding social behaviour, and relying on fixed routines and repetitive activities. It is closely linked with Asperger’s Syndrome (As) and Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
Autistic Spectrum Disorder is a term which recognises that there are a number of sub-groups within the spectrum of Autism (AUT). Children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder find it difficult to understand and use non-verbal and verbal communication. They also struggle with understanding social behaviour, which affects their ability to interact with other children and adults.
Cerebral Palsy describes a group of conditions which affect body movement, posture and muscle co-ordination, causing activity limitations and difficulties in control. Associated difficulties may also develop including vision, hearing, learning and behaviour.
Complex Learning Difficulties (CLD)
Children with Complex Learning Difficulties often have cognitive learning difficulties. This includes difficulties with the process of understanding, remembering and solving problems.
Dementia describes a set of symptoms which include loss of memory, mood changes, and problems with communication and reasoning, resulting from diseases and conditions including Alzheimer's disease and strokes.
This includes mental and/or physical impairments which result in significant limitations in everyday activities. Special needs services and support is necessary.
Down Syndrome causes delays in the way a child develops, both mentally and physically, and low muscle tone (hypotonia) and slow development is characteristic. Varying degrees of learning difficulties may also be present including vision, hearing, learning, behaviour, language delay, emotions, flexibility, repetition, memory, self-care and Autistic Spectrum Disorders are also more common.
Dyslexia (DYS) is described as a difficulty with processing written language. People with Dyslexia (DYS) find it very difficult to read, write and spell. It is not linked to intelligence or lack of intelligence.
Dyspraxia (DYSP) is a disorder which is recognised by poor motor co-ordination, clumsiness and difficulty in performing tasks which require fine motor skills such as drawing or writing. People with dyspraxia may also experience problems with delayed speech or other speech problems.
Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties (EBD)
Children with Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties (EBD) often present a barrier of learning with their behaviour, despite the implementation of an effective behaviour policy. They may find it difficult to maintain relationships with friends, adults and teachers and are often in a general pervasive mood of unhappiness.
People with Epilepsy (Ep) are prone to recurrent seizures. This is often caused by bright lights, flashing and quick movements. A problem in brain chemistry causes messages that are being sent to the brain to become scrambled, which makes neurons fire off faster and in bursts. It is this that triggers off seizures.
Hearing Impaired (HI)
Pupils with hearing impairments range from those with mild hearing impairments to those with profound hearing loss. Pupils are regarded as having a hearing impairment if they require hearing aids or adaptations to their environment in order to hear properly.
Moderate Learning Difficulties (MLD)
Children with Moderate Learning Difficulties (MLD) will often have attainments which are below expected levels in most areas of the school curriculum. They may also have speech and language delay, low self-esteem, low levels of concentration and under developed social skills.
Physically Disabled/Impaired (PhDis)
There are a number of medical conditions which are associated with physical disabilities and impairments. People who are Physically Disabled/Impaired (PhDis) may also have sensory impairments, neurological problems or learning difficulties.
Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties (PMLD)
People who have Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties (PMLD) have complex learning needs. As well as severe learning difficulties, they may also have physical disability, sensory impairment or severe medical condition. There is a likelihood that they would need their school curriculum broken down into very small steps.
Sensory impairments are disabilities in hearing, vision and/or touch.
Social Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties (SEBD)
Children who have Social Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties (SEBD) can often present a barrier to learning and persist, despite implementation of an effective behaviour policy. Children with behavioural, social and emotional difficulties cover the full range of ability and a continuum of severity.
Severe Learning Difficulties (SLD)
Severe Learning Difficulties is often characterized as children with severe learning difficulties and intellectual and cognitive impairments. This usually has a major effect on the child’s ability to participate in the school curriculum without support. They may also struggle with mobility and co-ordination and communication.
Specific Learning Difficulties (SpecLD)
A particular difficulty in learning to read, write, spell and manipulate numbers. This is also characterized by loss of short-term memory and difficulties with organisational skills and co-ordination.
Speech and Language Impaired/Disorders (SD)
Children may have difficulty in understanding or making others understand communication through oral speech. Their speech and oral language skills may be significantly behind other children of their age. They may stammer, have a reduced vocabulary, or find it hard to recall words and express the understanding of its meaning.
Visually Impaired (VI)
This refers to a range of difficulties from minor impairment through to blindness. Children who are visually impaired will have tactile methods of learning such as Braille and 3D Representations. A child is considered visually impaired if they require adaptations to their environment in order to access the curriculum.