Sensory Support from Personal Experience, by Mum of a Boy with ASD

Our youngest son is 12 years old. He was diagnosed as nonverbal autistic with sensory processing disorder at 2.5 years old.
He has a large vocabulary now but can only manage short sentences or 2/3 word communication. His level of understanding varies from age appropriate moments to then a very limited infant age, understanding emotions/feelings and safety are big examples of this for us at present.

Over the years, we have gone through many stages/challenges and are still riding the rollercoaster now. Helping our son to self regulate is key to keeping him on a baseline where he is least likely to hit meltdown and that point of no return. It isn’t always that simple as you will know, what works one day doesn’t always work another, but having a few key things to fall back on or go to at the tricky moments is always useful and maybe a few new things to try along the way.

We have tried and tested many different sensory toys and support aids to help ease his anxiety and help him self-regulate.

Here are a few things we are currently finding helpful and a few things we are going to move onto in the hope of supporting him further.

  • SENSORY BODY SOX: It’s a 4 way stretch lycra sensory body sock which supports deep pressure while allowing all round movement. Our son loves this and will often completely close himself off inside for short moments to decompress and shut out the room when sensory overloaded.

  • STRETCHY LYCRA BANDS: These have many benefits to help regulate and support the body and work more for deep muscle work and movement, wanting to be pulled along or leaning back as far as possible. He currently uses the stretchy bands alongside his scooter board.

  • SCOOTER BOARDS: These are great for ease of movement, he likes to spin at present and feel the pull from the bands, which is why they work so well together. The scooter boards are lightweight but strong, so easy to use and move for all ages.

  • VIBRATING PILLOW/CUSHION: These are amazing! They vibrate gently as you lean against it, sit/stand on it. Very relaxing, calming but also a way to help desensitise the body to help with getting dressed or bath time, touch etc.

  • OCEAN WAVE OR STAR PROJECTOR LAMP: We have had many variations of night lights and sensory lamps, which we still use all over the house to help when needing to distract, redirect his attention, help calm him, perhaps when the weather is bad outside or unwell etc.

Cause and effect toys can also come in really handy. Try marble runs, wind up toys, LED finger lights, spinning tops (some light up) and a Robo Fish! Available on the websites shown above or Amazon.

Two kids sitting and reading under a tent decorated with Christmas lights that sensory support them.

Other items we use often at home with our son are foam colour sheets. We used to draw numbers, letters or shapes, anything he liked, and cut them out for him, but now he is able to draw and cut out himself. These sheets help him self regulate and cope when finding lessons hard at school.
Bath bombs are another favourite. Bath time is proving to be one of our current challenges, so bath bombs help him get in with less focus on the sensory side.

Fleece blankets are brilliant, we have many variations throughout the house, but a few which he knows are his. We keep one on his favourite seat, one on his bed and another in the car. We find this really helps with transitions and anxiety.

Our son loves numbers and letters in a mixture of materials and textures. This has always been a keen interest for our son, but if shapes, cars, animals etc., work for your child, then having a bucket or tub of them around can help.

We are hoping to purchase a free standing adult punch bag (still researching the best one) and a Gonge carousel to support his intense need to spin. The spinning helps him self regulate and level his emotions, which is much needed with the growing hormones at this age.

Please do let us know if you have come across any great sensory aids or toys that have helped your child!