Sensory Toys Can Be Anything

A blue ball, a few wooden blocks, a piece of rubber, string, and a folded piece of rough fabric, lying on gray carpet.
With more and more sensory specific products on the market, it can feel like you have to shell out money for sensory regulation. Don't forget what you already have handy.

An influx of products

More and more companies nowadays are selling sensory toys, and that’s great. Yet I’ve seen some people, when they develop a greater awareness of their own or their kid’s sensory needs, feel like they now have to buy lots of things for sensory regulation. I’ve also seen some families frustrated at not being able to afford the latest, greatest products out there.

There’s no need to restrict yourself to pre-fabricated sensory toys that you purchase for that purpose. Those can be great…and you might find some amazing sensory toys laying around your house for free, or among products that are not labeled as having anything to do with sensory comfort.

The whole point of a sensory device/object/toy/whatever is to provide stimulation or relaxation (sensory regulation in some way or other) to the user. It doesn’t have to come from a company specializing in sensory objects, and the product doesn’t have to be labeled for that specific use. Since the dawn of time, humans have been doing things to make themselves feel better with whatever they have had handy. That applies no less to those of us with sensory sensitivities nowadays.

More options, not fewer

I have found great comfort in a scrap of scratchy material, the rubbery feel of a paint spreader from an art store, an aerobics ball that had been in my garage for years, small wooden blocks, scraping the tops of my feet on carpet, certain types of music, and smelling flowers at the side of a parking lot.

And yes, I’ve bought and used and loved plenty of products custom designed for sensory regulation as well.

I’m not advocating one or the other. I wish everyone the freedom of more options, not fewer. Use both! Use whatever you have handy. And if you find something good to buy, enjoy that, too. 

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2 Responses

  1. I really agree with this. I have a thing about trees and after walking through local woodland and allowing myself to touch and feel the bark, I felt so calm and happy. I was wondering how I could have that sensory input at home and found a small closed pine cone in among my nature collection. I sat exploring the feel of this with my fingers for quite a while. I also love the feel of shells. I’m going to start taking a few of these things with me when I go out from now on.

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Picture of Heather Cook

Heather Cook

Hi, I’m Heather. I’m an Autistic writer, advocate, and life coach, and I'm building a life I love. I help other Autistics to build their own autism-positive life. I love reading, jigsaw puzzles, just about every -ology, and Star Trek!

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