These Are a Few of Our Favorite Sensory-Friendly Things

Friday, December 14, 2018

It’s that time of the year, when gift givers are down to the wire and searching for that perfect something. If you have a loved one with autism on your list, check out these suggestions from expert staff at The Kinney Center for Autism Education and Support.

1) “Noise reduction headphones help to lessen the volume and intensity of sound in the environment, while still hearing nearby speech. I love how this tool helps individuals with autism remain in their learning and community environments, and participate in instructional or social activities that may have otherwise been auditorily challenging. As a clinician, it has been a rewarding experience to see my clients progress with their peers and instructors, since they receive the noise reduction needed while still being a part of the group!”Nicole Doyle, M.S. Ed., BCBA , Associate Director of Curriculum and Youth Programs

2) “Many individuals with autism, and also some without autism, go through a phase where they have a need or strong desire to chew on things throughout the day. This could include chewing on the collar of their shirt, small toys, pencils, or even their own hand, during the school or work day. Chewable jewelry toys provide a more appropriate alternative opportunity to meet this sensory need. If there are any safety concerns with a particular individual wearing a necklace, these can be adapted to be worn using a breakaway necklace clasp, as a bracelet, or even attached to clothing via a special clasp for that purpose.” Joseph McCleery, Ph.D., Executive Director of Academic Programs

3) “Hopper balls are my favorite sensory item for adults with autism because it is a fun interactive way for our students to get sensory relief.” Hannah Tomkovicz, BCBA Assistant Director, Adult Programs

4) “My favorite sensory item is kinetic sand. A friend introduced me to it in graduate school, and I've used it personally and professionally ever since. I like that it's versatile and works with all ages and abilities. It's a great way to build motor and play skills, plus it has a great calming effect and reduces anxiety. Perfect for a brain break!”Bridget McElroy MSW, LSW, Assistant Director of Program Support

5) “My favorite sensory item for students with autism is a fidget spinner, which is a small, ball-bearing device that the individual can rotate between his or her fingers. Many individuals with autism have sensory needs, which may prohibit them from staying in their seat in the classroom for a significant amount of time. These spinners aide in helping to provide better concentration for individuals with autism. The fidget spinners also tend to have a ‘calming effect’ to them, which can reduce a student's stress and anxiety in the classroom.”Alexa Musumeci, M.S. Ed. '17 , Assistant Director, Program Support

6) “Sensory balls of all shapes and sizes can be rolled on the body, used for massage, rolled underneath your feet, over sore muscles and used for fidgeting. They can also be used for hand strengthening. Sensory balls can also be used to identify colors and textures, and expressions. Also, users can learn how to throw, roll, pass, squeeze and catch a ball. They can also be used for to seating, exercise and therapeutic activities. Sensory balls can be used to assist with hand-eye coordination, balance, and coordination. No matter the size, weight, or filling sensory balls can be a great tool utilized by many practitioners for success with individuals with autism.”Christopher Fox, M.Ed., Special Education, Assistant Director of Programs

7) “A weighted blanket provides deep pressure which is super calming and helps with falling asleep at night. My favorite way to use a weighted blanket is watching a movie or taking a nap!”Arianna Esposito, MBA '18, BCBA, LBA , Associate Director, Adult and Transition Programs

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