Last Updated on February 4, 2022 by Editorial Team
When was the last time you acted out a charade at a party? Or built a snowman in the yard or played fetch with your dog. If it’s hard to remember the last time you really had fun and enjoyed yourself, then this article is for you. Here, we are recommending some of the best-suited sensory toys for adults. Though sensory toys are often used to relieve symptoms of sensory processing disorders in adults, here we are also recommending them to a more general audience who would just like to take a break between their commitments.
Let’s dive into the world of sensory play and explore what sensory toys are and what are our options.
What are Sensory Toys?
Sensory toys are tools that are designed to help overstimulated people calm down by introducing a physical object to regulate sensory feedback (Morrison, 2017).
We live in a hectic world. Between our childhood and adulthood, somewhere we lose our tendency to play. The modern world puts us in boxes. We get limited to work and family commitments. If you could notice, you would see how badly we crave fun as adults. And fun isn’t zoning out in front of a screen. Here we are talking about sensory play, the way we did fun as children, as a medium to relax between your personal and professional life.
Sensory play is as essential, if not more, for children as it is for adults. It could act as a source of stimulation and relaxation, something that adults are not very popular for. The play could give you an excuse to become more social, unstructured, and become creative with your daily schedule.
What are different types of sensory toys for adults?
There is a broad range of sensory toy options available for adults. The sensory toy you invest in must correlate to the kind of help you seek. Depending on the level of reactivity to sensory stimulation, you could broadly divide the sensory disorders into two for ease of understanding; hypersensitive and hyposensitive. There are specific sensory toys for a specific level of reactivity. Knowing about them may come in handy while making a purchasing decision.
Anyone who wants to include play in their routine can benefit from sensory toys. However, special needs adults with sensory processing disorders can profit from them as well. These toys target the sensory pathways and enable the adults to engage with their environments on a more profound level. They tend to create enriched bonds. A good sensory toy has a positive effect on the person’s cognition, language as well his emotional state. (Bunning, 1996)
Let’s explore our options of sensory toys for adults.
Finding the right match with a sensory toy that could address your needs is crucial. There are many ways you could go about it, however, SPD support has a very inclusive checklist that you can refer to understand your triggers and stressors. It can help you narrow down your options. The general idea is to start engaging with the toy before the point of stress. A regular engagement with the right sensory toy could comfort you at the time of crisis. And can benefit you with everyday interactions and functions.
Here we will explore a wide variety of sensory toys for adults. You can pick the option that suits your needs.
Full Body Sensory Toys
1. Weighted Blankets
If a heavy comfortable blanket gives you a sense of relief, then a weighted blanket could be a good sensory toy for you. A weighted blanket could be used by people of all ages. Before buying a blanket, however, check how your body responds to different materials and what weight is ideal for you. There are many options in the market where you could make a choice based on the offered pressure and weight. You could also consult your therapist for details on appropriate size and efficacy.
2. Bean Bags
Bean bags could provide a full-body pressure input. They adapt to the body’s unique shape and hug you from behind. The right fit could relax you on a stressful day as it engages your sense of pressure by making contacts at many points at a time.
Bean bags come in various shapes and sizes. You could easily find them in a nearby store. An investment in a quality bean bag could last for years, as long as you regularly refill it.
3. Swing Chair
We often rock and swing an infant to put them to sleep or calm them down. A swing chair or a hammock is a product that addresses the same need for comfort in adults. You could recline or layout in the swing chair, or cuddle sideways to provide yourself strong sensory feedback.
Quality swing chairs or hammocks can offer sensory integration at their finest. They comfort a person and help them relax their senses in full, as they engage the person’s vestibular system.
Temperature and Sight Based Sensory Toys
The temperature change can provide relief during a time of stress. You must already be using objects that give you hot and cold sensations at the time of need. We can notice that with heat or ice pads, how they relieve the sore muscles. Since the toys and activities that could attend to your sense of temperature are so wide and nuanced, we are going to pick two experiences that are worth looking into for adults.
4. Sensory deprivation tanks
Sensory deprivation tanks are used for restricted environmental stimulation therapy (REST). It blocks out sound and light from outside and matches the temperature of your body. The density of the water is usually on the higher side. If you are someone who deals with a high degree of sensory overload, then a deprivation tank could have various health benefits. It primarily calms down the overstimulated sense and may promote a more relaxed state of mind. It’s very similar to meditation.
5. Sensory Rooms
Sensory rooms are designed to attend to your specific stimulation needs. It could include a wide range of sensory tools from lighting to sounds to temperature. Apart from learning, a sensory room could also be fun. You could find local contractors who could help you create a great sensory space in your workspace or home.
Tactile Sensory Toys
Tactile reflexes directly correlate to the sense of touch. These sensory toys can help special needs adults by calming their reflexes. They also help adults with their focus and in developing motor skills and concentration. In the market, you could find fidget toys, sensory rings, textured beads, and many versatile options under this category. Depending on your mood, you could switch between something squishy or something textured. Here we are recommending Water beads and Fidget toys.
6. Water Beads
Water beads are slippery and squishy. They could be addictive and fun sensory toys for adults. You might have seen children play with them in craft stores, but even in adults, they could have the same calming effect they have in children. They are made of water and water-absorbing polymer. You could find them both in pre-soaked form and dry form. When you soak the dry beads in the water, they fill up the water and expand like water balloons.
7. Fidget Toys
Fidget toys are like unlimited bubble wraps. Fiddling is common in adults, whether you like twirling your hair or biting your nails. Adults like transferring their energy to tangible things, and a fidget spinner is a prime example of it. They come in a ton of variations; push pop, soft, silicone molds. Fidget toys could help adults with their anxiety and stress.
How to include sensory play in your adult life?
Play is an underrated activity. Inviting more play and fun in your regular life could improve everything from the quality of relationships to your outlook on life. You could surpass the most difficult of times by just taking some time off to play and laugh (Engel & Winnie, 2011).
We understand the importance of play. However, how do we turn this rare occurrence into a daily affair?
Developing a playful and humorous side at work and home could be the key to making play an everyday thing. Often, as adults, we become concerned and self-conscious about how we would look or sound to others. We feel embarrassed. We fear rejection. We worry we may get labeled as childish. But we should be more accepting that there is nothing wrong with being childish. That children are naturally playful. It could be an optimistic quest to remain as playful as children are and simultaneously take care of everything that life throws at us. As the more you play, the easier life becomes.
That said, no two individuals are the same. Everyone processes sensory information differently. The right answer is to pick whatever makes you feel safer and more comfortable.
- Bunning, K. (1996). Development of an’individualised sensory environment’for adults with learning disabilities and an evaluation of its effects on their interactive behaviours.
- Engel, Y., & Winnie, D. (2011). The relationship between sensory processing difficulties and anxiety level of healthy adults. British Journal of Occupational Therapy , pp. 210-216.
- Morrison, D. (2017). Integrative play therapy with adults with complex trauma: A developmentally-informed approach. International Journal of Play Therapy, p. 172.
An engineer, Maths expert, Online Tutor and animal rights activist. In more than 5+ years of my online teaching experience, I closely worked with many students struggling with dyscalculia and dyslexia. With the years passing, I learned that not much effort being put into the awareness of this learning disorder. Students with dyscalculia often misunderstood for having just a simple math fear. This is still an underresearched and understudied subject. I am also the founder of Smartynote -‘The notepad app for dyslexia’,