Our April competition is to win a fantastic sensory toy pack. Also known as a fidget pack, this is an excellent resource for SEND children to use either at home or in the classroom. To understand why toys like this can be such useful tools, it is first necessary to understand a bit about sensory processing disorder.
Sensory Processing Disorder – what is it?
This is a condition in which the brain has trouble receiving and responding to information received through the senses. People with sensory processing disorder are over or under sensitive to things in their environment. For example, a soft item of clothing may feel itchy or chafe the skin. A light in a room which many people would consider appropriate might be far too bright and overstimulating for a person with sensory processing disorder. On the other hand those with the condition may also respond in the opposite way to stimulus. For example, a fire alarm may send most people running from the building, but some individuals with sensory processing disorder might barely notice it, and may fail to respond at all.
In addition, individuals with sensory processing disorder may:
- Be uncoordinated
- Bump into things
- Be unable to tell where their limbs are in space
- Find it difficult to engage in conversation or play
Sensory processing problems are usually identified in children. But they can also affect adults. They are commonly associated with conditions such as autism.
How can sensory toys help?
Many children with special needs experience issues with sensory processing. When things start to become difficult to deal with, these children will typically start to “act up“. This could manifest in a wide range of ways. For example, children might get up from their seat in the classroom and start to disrupt the learning of others, or they might start screaming or shouting to block out whatever is causing the upset, or running from the room altogether and hiding somewhere they feel safe. Before a diagnosis or statement of special needs (or now an EHC Plan), these children may often receive a label as being “badly behaved“ individuals, and in a mainstream school environment could end up being put on behaviour plans. Under the new legislation for SEND, behaviour is no longer recognised as being a special need on it’s own. However, we must realise that there is often an underlying problem or issue from which this behaviour stems. For some children this could be social and emotional issues. For others some sort of sensory processing disorder could well be involved. The reaction of one child can be wildly different to that of another with the condition, so it is impossible to generalise too much. However, one thing which seems to be common is the need to fidget. When things start to become difficult, it is typical that a child with sensory processing disorder will start to play with objects nearby, or their fingers, hands, clothes – literally anything within arms reach could suddenly gain their intense attention. If a parent, teacher or practitioner can recognise these early warning signs and intervene it can prevent the situation from escalating. This is where fidget toys can really be helpful.
If a child is given an appropriate toy to divert their attention to when things become too much for them, they will be able to channel their anxious energy into playing with it, rather than disrupting others or escalating their feelings until an inevitable “meltdown” takes place. It might take some trial and error to find out which type of toy will “fit” the individual child best, but once this is worked out, it can be incredibly therapeutic for a SEND child to play with bendy arms and legs (for example) or a ball which lights up and flashes when played with. Of course, sensory toys come in all shapes and sizes. And to some extent, all toys are sensory because they can be physically held, heard, explored etc. However, toys labelled as being sensory toys for special needs children have usually been tried and tested and are known to be effective for children with SEND.
Win a Fidget Pack with Axcis Education
For our April competition, we have a Fidget Pack to give away to one lucky winner. All you have to do is visit our page on Facebook and enter the draw to win the pack pictured below. Competitions close on the last day of the month.