During the school year, most special needs children have easy access to sensory stimulation in their local public schools. Many public schools even offer special indoor sensory stimulation rooms. However, once children head home for the summer, parents may find that meltdowns and problems become more frequent occurrences as children have no way of getting rid of their energy and as they begin to feel over-stimulated.
Thankfully, with a bit of imagination and a small budget, parents can create their own set of sensory tools much like a school would have. Additionally, parents should consider creating a sensory tools kits for when they are away from home. The tools inside should be chosen based on the child’s specific needs and sensory overload issues. For times away from home, parents could bring sunglasses or hats to protect from visual stimulation. Noise-canceling headphones can protect from auditory over-stimulation and can be purchased cheaply at almost any big box store. Children who are comforted by tactile stimulation can be offered fabrics or stuffed animals to rub.
Home tools can be easier to gather because they do not have to be small and portable. A weighted blanket can provide the feeling of a hug. Parents can also pick up a variety of items to hold and touch, such as silly putty and play-doh. Consider investing in a trampoline to get rid of excessive energy at home as well as ways to use the hands and body, such as by using rocking chairs, back massagers, and stress balls.
The outdoors offers an awesome opportunity for parents to give their special needs children the outdoor stimulation that they need. These children will enjoy the fresh air, the opportunity to run and climb and the different sights and feelings. These children will benefit most from several shorter trips to the playground rather than from one long experience. Those who do not have a playground nearby can invest in a small backyard swimming pool or sandbox.