Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Money-saving solutions to meet sensory needs:Part1 swings and tactile trays

A MSE is a multisensory environment.  I have three kids under the age of five so money is extremely tight.  The oldest has Asperger’s Syndrome, which comes with sensory issues, as well as, her comorbid issue of hypotonia (low muscle tone). Kids with sensory issues need sensory tools and products to help them calm or stimulate them, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend thousands of dollars.   Unless, of course, you have that kind of money to spend. Then by all means – support an American business and help our economy. For the rest of us that need to pinch pennies everywhere we can, here are some great solutions to providing your child with some great sensory solutions.  I am always on the lookout for bargains and have learned to swallow my pride and accept toys from others that are no longer using them. When my husband and I moved into our modest three floor townhouse, I swore that I would make the basement a playroom/sensory room for our kids.  So for each birthday or holiday, I would make a wishlist for friends, relatives and myself to use with toys and products that would help with sensory issues and be fun to play with as a kid.  Slowly, we came to have one of the coolest playroom/ sensory rooms in the neighborhood and for hardly any money. Below are some great links to sensory products and great money-saving alternatives.

Part 1: Swings and Tactile Trays/Containers
Swinging in a dimly lit room
 When my daughter is having trouble with her sensory issues, it is always apparent to me because she starts stimming.  She tries to self regulate by flapping and rocking but if she starts to repeat the same silly phrase over and over again - then she usually has gone over the top and needs help calming down.  So we go to the basement to swing.  Not just any swing but an enclosed swing filled with stuffed teddy bears and other soft toys to give her the compression she needs while at the same time receiving the soothing rocking motion of the swing.  In therapy centers, they use a swing called a cuddle swing sold for $155.00 or an Airwalker Therapy Swing made out of spandex currently selling for $359.00, but my mother (thanks mom) bought a great substitute at Ikea for only $25.00 seen here under their Ideas & Inspiration page gray ikea swing. 
Tactile (sense of touch)
One of my daughter's favorite tactile activities is also the simplest.  She loves to dig/hunt for treasures in plastic containers. Some great containers have been made like this "exploration tray" (sold for $65) to put water, or rice, or curl dried uncooked pasta into and mix small toys like little dinosaurs or toy cars or small princess figurines for kids to dig through and find. To save a ton of money, I went to the nearest store and bought a plastic container with a lid for $12.  One week I filled it with dried uncooked rice and hide tiny toys mixed into the rice container.  I would have her look for 5 things one day or the next day give her more specifics (ie. find Ariel, Barbie's shoe, a red car, etc.).  This way she has to dig through the sensation for at least a few minutes.  The next week I would put other small toys in the container mixed with dried curly pasta. 

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