Our Sensory Toys

Over the years we’ve slowly accumulated a rather nice collection of sensory toys. These toys, often aimed at children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
and/or Sensory Processing Disorder, are also helpful for people with anxiety and trauma based disorders.

We have a complicated list of different diagnoses including both physiological and psychological. I’ve seen so many different doctors, specialists, therapists, and allied health professionals. All have given different advice and guidance on managing my symptoms.

When it comes to my mental health the things I’ve found most helpful are the ones I’ve discovered on my own, or suggestions from professionals that I’ve tweaked to better suit my needs.

No one every suggested sensory toys for grounding. Ever. I can’t remember how I stumbled upon them. Mostly they were fun toys. I knew I’d pick at skin, fingernails, and clothing when feeling anxious, so something to play with helped. Sometimes that meant taking a soft toy to therapy to hold and play with. Now I usually sit and run my fingers over the plastic bottle of Diet Vanilla Coke I have before/during therapy. It has raised bumps, lines, and the label, plus the lid. Lots of different textures.

At home I have more choice: a weighted soft toy, a fidget cube, two different tangle toys, and a weighted blanket with fiddle tags.

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Our collection of sensory toys: A weighted hedgehog soft toy, a fidget cube, two tangle toys (smooth, and textured), and our 8kg (17.5 pounds) weighted blanket with our DIY fiddle tags.

Different parts have preferred items. The pastel tangle toy is Miss 12 G’s, but not the textured tangle toy. That hasn’t been claimed by anyone yet, but I quite like it. I close my eyes and focus on the texture of each piece, try to describe it, then picture it. The fidget cube is relatively new, and liked by several of us – Miss 5 likes the colours, Miss 12 G likes pressing/touching different parts of it in order (all about patterns with her!).

The big weighted hedgehog toy belongs to all of us. Not only is it weighted (I think it’s 1-2kg), but the fabric it’s made of is all different textures that can be touched, rubbed, ruffled, and played with for all different sensations. It’s comforting (the weight), and distracting (the textures) for all of us.

That brings me to our 8kg (17.5 pounds) weighted blanket. I still have absolutely no regrets about buying it, and spending so much time sewing fiddle tags on. We still find the weight calming and reassuring, and the fiddle tags good for grounding like the sensory toys.
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Drifting

As I write this I’m dissociated. I’m detached from my body, from my emotions, from the world around me. I’ve tried drinking coffee, hoping that the caffeine kick will get me more connected with my body, but nope.

I’ve aimlessly don’t more chores than my body can usually tolerate all because I can’t quite feel my body, the pain, the deadening fatigue.

Grounding? I can’t think what helps. I can’t think what I’ve done in the past.

I’m drifting. Staring blankly into space before realising I’m doing so and trying to jerk myself back to reality, then drifting again.

I know self-harming would be grounding. The sudden pain would bring me back into my body. That’s not something I want to do, or something I’d ever recommend though!

I thought getting my brain working, writing blog posts, would help. It hasn’t. This is the third post I’ve worked on today and I’m quite rapidly becoming more and more dissociated.

Thankfully there isn’t anything that I need to do today. No work, no obligations outside of the house. I just need to eat, drink, and take care of myself.

There’s so many grounding skills I could try, but I’ve been here before and they tend not to make much difference.

  • Counting everything I can see around me that is red (or blue or yellow)
  • Drinking icy cold water quickly
  • Putting an ice pack under my feet (and focussing on the sensation, not dissociating from it)
  • Counting backwards from one hundred in multiples of three
  • Saying the alphabet backwards