Best SEN gifts: sensory needs
It’s been estimated that 5-16.5% of the general population have symptoms associated with sensory processing challenges. This is higher when you include autism and ADHD. Although this is a significant chunk of the population, it can still be challenging to find appropriate toys, gifts, and learning tools.
Every child is different, so it’s important to consider their personality as well as their preferences and specific needs. There isn’t a ‘one gift suits all’ but we’ve created a list of our favourites that we hope will be a good starting point.
Fidget sensory toys
The fidget toy is incredibly popular these days, which means there's a lot to choose from. This pack includes two stress relief balls, two soybean squeezes, two flippy chains and three large stretch strings. Playing with these, for an adult or child, can lead to hours of enjoyment and fidgeting is thought to help some people with focus and attention.
Emotions face fan
Generally suitable for children age three and up, this is a great learning tool for any EYFS or KS1 child who struggles with communication or identifying emotions. It’s also the perfect size for a pencil case!
Ear defenders are a great gift for those with a sensitivity to sound. Bear in mind though that some children don’t like having things on their head! These are comfortable and lightweight, easy to fold and pack away. They can help with loud noises in the classroom, out and about and at home.
Communication book with visual aids
Communication books can be a good way to help a child with tricky transitions or important routines. Created by a mum and ex-teacher, this communication book with visual aids supports communication skills, independence and can even help reduce anxiety.
If you’re looking for something to help with balance and spatial awareness, as well as providing a sensory place to safely explore, then the body sock might just be the thing. It’s made of a stretchy material, so it has a slight resistance to it, and many children with ADHD and autism enjoy the comfort it brings.
Classic pin art
A great, no-mess sensory toy that (as the name suggests) is a complete classic. It’s popular with children who have sensory challenges because they usually like the way the pins feel on their hands. You can use all sorts of things to make an imprint, which allows children to explore their creativity.
Weighted sensory snake
Weighted products are helpful because they provide a constant, deep pressure that some children find incredibly calming. This sensory snake can provide that comfort whilst also being a fun friend, joining them on their adventures.
For the same reasons mentioned above, a weighted blanket is a great gift option for children with sensory processing challenges. Comes with two different styles and easy to take with you on your travels.
Indoor swing pod
The gentle motion of a swing is known to help relax children with autism, ADHD and other sensory challenges. It can be calming, but it can also be stimulating, so that’s something to be aware of before you purchase. If your child has the opportunity to try one first that can help you determine if it's the right product for their needs.
Pop-up Play Tunnel
This is an extra large sensory tunnel designed for older children. It's great for sensory stimulation with it's vibrant colours, soft texture and LED lights to captivate in the darkness of the tunnel.
Liquid Sensory Timer
This is a mesmerising gift, perfect for creating a sense of calm but also just fun to look at and enjoy. You can use it when you’re out and about or at home. It can be incredibly useful for managing your child’s expectations and comforting them when it’s time to finish a task or activity. Choose from three different colours and simply flip it over (no batteries required) to start the timer.
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