Our life has been filled with sensory exploration for around 7 years.
When I first expected that Harri had sensory processing disorder and autism, he was around 14 months old. He had no interest in baby toys unless they flashed, and hated anything that made noise, we found it increasingly difficult (and still do 8 years on) to find him anything that kept his interest longer than a few seconds, or that didn’t cause him sensory overload.
We started off with very basic light up toys, little flashing balls, changeable light bulbs, flashing bath toys etc.
Bath time used to be a really hard time for us, he absolutely hated water, hated having his hair washed or brushed, hated having his teeth brushed. And what many people don’t realise is that there are so many sensory toys and equipment that can help make these things easier.
Simple things like adding flashing lights to the bath or tap, toothbrushes and toothpaste that are made specifically for children with SPD and you can buy little sand timers which really helped as a visual aid, coral sponges are lovely and soft once wet and ideal for children that don’t like to be touched or get too wet. But not only that, one of the best ways to conquer a fear of water is to introduce it into play, same with sand, grass and dirt.
We had some amazing services involved when Harri was little, portage being the main one. Who taught us all the wonders of sensory play and the benefits for not only children with special needs but children in general of all ages, and when Harri was 3 we made him the most amazing sensory room complete with a bubble tube and fiberoptic lights, that were mainly supplied by a charity called Caudwell fund.
This was his own space, where if he was having a meltdown or a particularly bad day, he could go to relax amongst the lights and his little flashing toys and it would calm him.
During the time when he was a baby, there wasn’t much available like what Katie produces. No one did sensory packs, and the ones that were available from bigger sensory companies weren’t affordable, so we had to make do with things we could find or make ourselves, I would have been so grateful to have had a company like Rainbow Sensory Gifts, where I would know the things were safe and carefully thought out. I would have benefited from having Katie in general to bounce ideas back and forth and I’m so thankful that I have somewhere I can grab all these wonderful toys at such affordable prices to help Fraser learn and develop his skills.
Fine motor and hand eye coordination skills will always be big milestones for us because Harri didn’t learn to wave, point, clap until he was around 3, we’re still working on his pincer grasp and he’s now 8 years old.
Fraser with the help of Katie’s deluxe sensory bag, is already trying to do the open and closed wave at 6 months old, he can move objects between hands, pick some smaller objects up like her wooden rainbow blocks, spikey flashing balls and ribbon wands.
He’s been learning how to problem solve by hiding items underneath his scarfs and finding them, and pulling the scarfs through an Oball.
One of the big things for us is that Fraser has a flat head at the back, he had stiffness in one side of his neck and absolutely hated tummy time, this is why we originally bought the deluxe sensory bag, to encourage tummy time but also to use things like the flashing ball, mirror, visual cards and bells to get him to move his head from side to side.
This all helped immensely and whilst his head is still flat because he can’t sit unaided, he spends the majority of the day now on his tummy, rolling around the room trying to reach his sensory toys. And he can now move his head from side to side with no issue.
I also think when we have access to sensory toys like Katie produces, it encourages us to play more and educate ourselves more about learning through play and it’s benefits, which is so so important. You don’t have to spend an absolute fortune like I was led to believe, I spent hundreds of pounds all those years ago, and the equipment from caudwell, whilst absolutely amazing, was worth a lot of money and I could have never ever afforded to have bought it myself.
We’re lucky now that we have people like Katie, and resources more readily available. Instagram and Pinterest didn’t exist then. My ideas were my own and it was so stressful not really knowing what I was doing. Which is why Katie’s little information booklet which gives you ideas on how to use the items in the bags, is so amazing.
I’m not sure about anyone else but I find babies really hard work to entertain and not only that, it also meant that after we had played, he was quite happy to lie on the floor with a few bits from the sensory bag whilst I pottered on around the house or just had 5 minutes to myself and I never had to try and think of games to play or activities to do with the toys because I had them right in that booklet.
Fraser has been using Katie’s sensory toys since he was around 5 weeks old, and he will continue to use them into toddlerhood.
I really look forward to seeing what rainbow sensory gifts has in store for the future and will continue to support her every step of the way because without a company like hers I’d still be struggling to find what I need at amazing value, to help Fraser learn and
develop all these awesome skills.
Links for Katie’s Website and Instagram below