The fundamental senses of seeing, tasting, hearing, smelling and feeling encourage a child's curiosity and activate their mind to discover the things around their world. For many children, though, one or more of these senses may be absent or delayed. As such, sensory toys such as toys with strong stimuli in this category are tremendously important for these children.
Children with autism and other sensory disorders, in particular, can greatly benefit from a range of sensory toys and activities, especially as part of a sensory diet.
A sensory diet can be thought of as being similar to a food diet, but instead of food a child has a planned and scheduled activity program that encourages a variety of sensations to be experienced throughout the day. Children with an ASD / Autism or a sensory integration disorder follow their individual plan to help them meet their sensory processing needs and feel calm, alert and organised.
Children with an ASD can often be under or overstimulated by various sensations, seeking out those sensations they are attracted to, such as flashing lights, and avoiding those that overstimulate them, such as very loud noises.
Children with a visual impairment can benefit from toys that offer auditory and tactile stimulation whilst children with hearing impairments can benefit from visually appealing and tactile toys.
Sensory toys can also be used in conjunction with therapy - though always consult with your child's therapist to ensure that your child's toys are suitable.