Have you ever bought a sensory toy like a swing, busy board, or weighted blanket, only to have it collect dust after a few weeks? How about scouring the internet and leaving empty handed because you're not sure what to get?
It happens! Sensory integration activities can be a bit of an educated guessing game for each individual, but this guide is to help you make the best use of your time and resources. SensoryRx products primarily support movement-based activities like swinging, climbing, jumping, and crashing - but following these four steps can be applied to selecting any sensory tool or toy.
- Determine your goal
- Find the right product profile
- Try recommended activities
- Rinse, repeat, and keep it fresh
1. Determine Your Goal
Having specific goals with sensory integration are incredibly important. It helps to stay motivated, work efficiently, and find out what is (and isn't) working. When choosing a sensory product, ask yourself:
Who is using this product?
Don't try to serve everyone in the same way. Everyone's unique!
What is their general tolerance level?
SensoryRx products integrate tactile, vestibular, and proprioceptive input. Take a look at the individual's sensitivity to each of these inputs. It's okay to challenge tolerance, but being comfortable is important too.
How do they respond to stimuli?
Will they try to escape? Will they tune out? Will they become overwhelmed easily? Knowing the answer to these questions can not only help you find the right sensory swing, but also how to use it.
What is the goal?
If you have answered the last three questions, this should be easier to figure out. Example goals are: calming down when overstimulated, increasing physical activity, or building coping skills when faced with a sensitive stimulus.
2. Find the Right Product Profile
Every product we offer features a SensoryRx Product Profile, with an input rating for the tactile, vestibular, and proprioceptive sensory systems. You can combine your sensory needs and goals with these profiles to pick your best swing.
For example, the SensoryRx Saucer Swing provides high levels of input for the vestibular and proprioceptive systems. Individuals who crave high levels of motion and spinning may find fulfillment from this swing.
On the flip side, if you're looking to increase an individual's tolerance for active movement, consider using a different swing like the SensoryRx Canoe Swing where motion is more linear and it is a little more difficult to "escape" the swing.
3. Try Recommended Activities
We provide a few recommended activities for each product we offer. Use them as a starting point, but make sure you're tuned in to how the swing user is feeling. Ease into each activity, and give the user a chance to prepare for the transition between those activities.
It's like watching popcorn: things are "popping" when you're on the right track, but make sure to stop before the popcorn burns. When the popcorn is fully popped, move on to another activity or simply wrap things up.
4. Rinse, Repeat, and Keep it Fresh
Just because it worked yesterday, doesn't mean it will today. No matter our sensory differences, we're allowed to have preferences, off days, and a change of heart. If something is working, then run with it! If not, get creative right away and switch things up. Incorporating a social activity or game can be a simple tweak that makes all the difference.
Resources: Casey Dravis, OTD, OTR/L
Writer: Katie Johnson, SRx Brand Manager and Special Needs Parent
Reviewer: Kevin Anderson, PhD, OTR/L, ATP