Why Are Sensory Toys So important?

August 25, 2022

Sensory toys are becoming more popular in both children and adults, enjoyed not only by those with additional needs, but anyone who craves controlled sensory input.

Especially useful to people with Autism, Sensory Processing Disorder and other sensory issues, sensory toys are also important for learning and development, and can help combat stress, anxiety and overwhelm.

A great learning and development tool

Featured: Sensory Fabric Fidgets

There are many sensory play benefits, particularly for younger children as they grow and learn. As children develop, they are constantly learning and gaining new information from the world around them. Babies and toddlers in particular will be curious about new sensory sensations, including touch, sight and sound. Because of this, sensory toys provide a great learning opportunity for children. As they touch and play with sensory toys children can learn about texture, shape, and differentiation between objects

Tactile experiences have also been shown to help with development and memory. Even as adults, learning new things will ‘stick’ better when we engage our senses. Research shows that sensory play helps children develop the ability to understand complex learning tasks. It also supports the development of speech, problem solving and social skills. When experiences are multi-sensory, this development is further enhanced, which is why sensory toys are often brightly coloured to engage the user’s sight, tactile to engage their sense of touch, and some even emit noise to engage a user’s sense of sound.

Teaching self-regulation

Featured: Hand Roller – Shiny Rainbow and Matt Black

People with sensory processing difficulties can benefit greatly from the controlled stimulation sensory toys provide. Too much sensory information can cause overwhelm to those who are hypersensitive, which is why sensory toys are important for children, teenagers and adults with sensory requirements. By using a sensory toy or support tool, people with sensory processing issues can stimulate their senses in a regulated way, helping them take back control and decide for themselves the sensory input they would like.

For people who are hyposensitive (i.e., under responsive to sensory stimuli), sensory toys provide much needed sensory input. Toys with different textures are especially useful and provide a unique tactile experience that users can enjoy. Just like with hypersensitive people, using sensory toys gives under-stimulated individuals control of what sensory input they receive, and when. With experience, many children and adults will begin to self-regulate, learning how to engage with the right amount of sensory input to achieve a regulated or optimum state.

Calming and reducing anxiety

Featured: Ocean & Unicorn Projector Night Light

Sensory toys are a great tool to calm anxiety and overwhelm, giving users something to focus on other than the source of fear. Particularly useful for children and adults who are restless or have compulsive tendencies, the repetitive movement of some sensory toys (often called ‘fidget toys’ or ‘fidgets’) can provide a calming effect, helping the user to relax and be more at ease. Just think about how popular stress balls are – the repetitive squeezing and stretching allows you to release tension from your body, and thus reduce stress.

Aside from popular fidgets to manage overwhelm, there are a number of other sensory toys that can be used to calm those with anxiety. Weighted blankets, for example, have become incredibly popular for their calming effect, while products such as our Ocean Night Light or Planetarium Projector provide soothing lights and sounds to help users relax and go to sleep. Sensory toys can also be integrated with play experiences to help children with social difficulties to build their interactive skills without becoming overwhelmed.

Increasing concentration and focus

Featured: Rainbow Fidget Hand Snapper

For those with difficulties concentrating on tasks, sensory toys can be used to increase focus and avoid distraction. Similarly to people combatting anxiety and overwhelm, using a sensory fidget toy can help to distract from other sensory input, allowing the user to better concentrate on one task at a time. In one study on children with ADHD, researchers found that when hyperactive individuals were prevented from fidgeting they were easily distracted, however when they were given permission to fidget, they stayed focused and concentrated on the task before them.

While much of the research into fidget toys has been focused on ADHD, individuals with other concentration or sensory processing issues can also benefit from fidgets. Using a fidget toy allows the user to filter out other sensory information and can help those with sensory processing issues to avoid being distracted or overwhelmed by lights, sounds, and other sensory information. While some fidget toys will engage multiple senses, it is the tactile nature of fidgets that allows the user to keep their hands engaged in simple, repetitive movements so that their mind can focus elsewhere.

Interested in learning more about how our sensory toys can benefit you or your loved ones? Contact us today to discuss our full range of sensory toys and how they can help alleviate stress, retain focus, and develop new skills.

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