Sensory Processing Disorder and Toys, Correlation or Causation?

Now, I’m obviously not a scientist, nor have I researched this completely.  Just tossing out an observation I’ve made recently.  Is it just me or does the prevelence of sensory issues seem correlated with all the added bells and whistles on toys?  I’ve shopped for good sensory toys, and I’m surprised at how often I find myself going back to good old-fashioned toys and staying away from today’s gadgets.

Today’s mainstream toys seem designed to ensnare the senses and not stimulate them.  They enrapture children rather than encourage imagination. Play seems less exploration and more entertaining.   This would be ok if play was just unwinding, but to a child, play is work.  The work of growing and learning.  While children grow so does their nervous systems.  With TV and video games and hi-tech toys are we stunting our children for normal sensory development?

Some great toy recommendations from me, the mother of Cade, autistic 3-year-old:

Rubber, bean filled reptile toys found in the discount toys section of target.

spinning tops, my son loves to watch these go round and round.

bucket o wooden blocks, found anywhere, most recently at big lots for 7 dollars by me.

Bowling games, I love the one we have above, different textures, sounds and of course, the fun of crashing the ball into the pins!

good old-fashioned play dough.

stuffed animals of different textures and types.

Just a few, if you would like more recommendations by me, I’d be happy to tell you some of our other favorite, sensory inducing toys!


6 Responses to “Sensory Processing Disorder and Toys, Correlation or Causation?”

  1. Nancy Peske Says:

    I don’t know what the connection is–coincidence?–but those toys always annoyed me too! I’d take the battery out but you have to have a microscopic Phillips head screwdriver and a huge amount of patience. Sometimes, it makes sense to buy the older version on eBay. For instance, Sit n Spin, which offers great vestibular input, now has lights and music but the old one didn’t, and it was sturdier anyway.

  2. ShiPri Says:

    Get rid of all the toys with batteries, and any toy that has bells and whistles attached. Just plain old simple books, blocks, jig saw puzzles, spade/shovel/bucket. That sort of thing. Nothing shiny.
    Keep toys to a minimum, 1 or 2 things to play with, and rotate toys every couple of days.
    If your child is into “stimming” then get rid of all the toys with wheels and anything that spins. Well, initially anyway.
    Definately no tv, computers. They’ll learn to use the computer at school. And dvd’s well, it’s the same as tv. Are they actually watching the show? Or they watching the flickering?
    I did all this and I wouldn’t say my daughter isn’t autistic anymore, or less autistic than she was, but does alot less stimming than most in her class, can do complex puzzles, and is pretty good on the computer. Her tantrums and screaming are less too.

    I think, to begin with, when they’re little, the less stimulation the better. And even when they get bigger too. Less is more.

    • Melissa Says:

      I don’t know if the key is less stimulation, but the right stimulation. My son needs quite a bit of stimulation, but he does so much better if it’s targeted at his issues. The trampoline for vestibular input, playdough to challenge the fine motor, also providing tactile and olfactory input (esspecially if you make your own and scent it with kool-aid packets.) Even as baby he required swinging motion, loved the car, and hated to be laying down alone at any time.

  3. brandy nichole wilson Says:

    My parents learned very early I hated loud, noisy toys. I preferred things like cars, books, blocks, etc. At 4 I was more likely to spin a world globe around or read a book than play with a toy blabbering at me. (in fact, I cannot remember one ‘favorite’ toy that made noise…)

    However, I found my stress level is twice as high if I don’t allow myself time each day to ‘stim’; and I have always been that way. When I am praying, I rock; it helps me tune out other things. When I’m watching TV, I like to play with my hamster. (hamster=best stimmy toy ever) It’s just a matter of finding an appropiate time and thing to stim with. I’m 21 now.

    • Melissa Says:

      Thank you Brandy! I also think it’s important to allow my son stim time, and I really don’t see anything wrong with it. To me, he just needs it, like I need me time to recharge.

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