The holiday season is quickly approaching, and finding the perfect gift for everyone on your list can be really overwhelming. For kids with sensory needs, it can be even trickier to find the perfect gift.   Last year, I did a general post on toy ideas that have a therapeutic benefit, which you can read here.  Today, let’s take a look at a few gift ideas specifically for kids who seek or crave sensory input.  I will break down gift ideas by sensory system and will provide a link to purchase and the price.  I included recommended age ranges, but it is also important to consider other developmental factors.  For example, some of the items listed below could potentially be choking hazards, so even if the child is chronologically within the recommended age, it is important to ensure that he or she will be able to engage with the toy safely.     

Gift Ideas for Tactile Seekers

Kids who seek out tactile input, they want to touch everything!  Check out this post for a more in depth look at the tactile system.  When searching for the perfect gift for a tactile seeker, look at items that are interesting to touch.  Here are a few ideas to get you started.

 

Squigz

  • Price: $24.99 on Amazon, link here
  • Age range: 3 and up 
  • These are really fun little toys that are not only interesting from a tactile perspective but they also promote creativity!

Water beads

  • Price: about $6 on Amazon, link here
  • Age range: 3 and up
  • Water beads provide really cool sensory input.  Use various scoops, containers, tweezers to work on fine motor skills as well!

Tactile Pillows/ Stuffed Animals

  • Price: varies, link here to one example
  • Age range: 3 and up
  • I see these pillows and stuffed animals everywhere!  There are so many options out there – some are made with fuzzy material, some with sequin material that changes color as you touch it.  Any version of this would be a great gift for a tactile seeker.  

Gift Ideas for Olfactory Seekers

Olfactory seekers tend to seek out different kinds of smells.  When looking for the perfect gift, look at items that have a scented component.  Here are a few ideas.

Scented markers

  • Price: $5 on Amazon,  link here
  • Age range: 3 and up
  • There are many varieties of scented markers, any of them would make a great gift for a olfactory seeker.

Scented putty

  • Price: $12.99 at Fun and Function for single pack, $34.99 for 3 pack, link here
  • Age range: 3 and up
  • Not only does scented putty provide olfactory feedback, it is great for strengthening hand muscles too.

Gift Ideas for Visual Seekers 

Kids who seek out visual input love busy visual items with lots of things to look at.  To learn more about the visual sensory system, check out this post.  Here are a few gift ideas to get you started.

Visual fidgets

  • Price: $6.99 on Amazon, link here
  • Age range: not specified, but likely at least 3 and up
  • These are small and easy to transport, making them perfect for a variety of settings.  

Lava lamp

  • Price: about $13 on Amazon, link 
  • Age range: not specified, but older students may like these 
  • These are fun for bedrooms, sensory rooms or even your classroom.

I SPY books

  • Price: varies, one example at Target linked here
  • Age range: not specified, but elementary students would enjoy this
  • These books are great for visual seekers.  They are so busy, and you really have to focus on trying to find the items within all of that business.

Gift Ideas for Oral Seekers 

Kids who seek oral input often chew on everything or put things in their mouth.  Check out this post for more information on the oral sensory system.  Here are a few gift ideas.

Vibrating Toothbrush

  • Price: price varies, link to example on Amazon here
  • Age range: 3 years and up
  • Vibrating toothbrushes are a great way to incorporate oral input into naturally occurring daily routines.

Chewy necklaces

  • Price: varies, link to options at Fun and Function here
  • Age range: 3 and up
  • There are so many varieties of chewies that can work for kids of all ages.  Some have a necklace component, some can be a bracelet and some can just be held.  Check out Fun and Function or even Amazon for a ton of options!  

Gift Ideas for Auditory Seekers

Kids who seek auditory input really love noise!  Check out this post for more information on the auditory system.

Instrument Set

  • Price: $20.99 at Target, link here
  • Age range: 3-6 years
  • These instruments are so fun!  Your child can be their own band and create all the music he or she desires!

Rainstick

  • Price: $11 at Target, link here
  • Age range: not specified, but would be good for younger children
  • This is a very popular toy within the preschool classrooms that I have worked in.  It also gives some fun visual feedback as well.

Gift Ideas for Proprioceptive Seekers

The proprioceptive system is one of our hidden senses, which you can read more about here.  Kids who crave this kind of input are frequently seen pushing/pulling, jumping or crashing.  Here are some gift ideas for the proprioceptive seeker!

Crash pad

  • Price: $50 at Target, link here
  • Age range: 3 and up
  • This pad is a great option for kids who love to jump and crash, and is a good size to fit in a variety of rooms.

Sensory Sack

  • Price: $29.99 at Fun and Function,  link here
  • Age range: different sizes available for ages 4 up to adult
  • There are a few varieties of this sensory sack.  It is basically stretchy lycra that provides a lot of really good input to muscles and joints, which proprioceptive seekers crave.  

Cozy Canoe

  • Price: $119.99 at Fun and Function, link here
  • Age range: 3 up to adult
  • This canoe provides really good deep pressure input and can be a really fun spot for kids to hang out and read or play.  

Gift Ideas for Vestibular Seekers 

The vesitbular system is another hidden sense that you can read about here.  Vestibular seekers tend to crave a lot of movement.  They are always looking to run, spin, swing and bounce.  Here are some gift ideas for vestibular seekers.

Sit n Spin

  • Price: $24.99 on Amazon, link here
  • Age range: 18 months and up
  • This classic toy is an awesome way for kids to get intense spinning movement.  It also engages the upper body and challenges a child’s motor planning skills, which make it a great find.  

IKEA egg chair

  • Price: $69.99 at IKEA, link here
  • Age range: 3 and up
  • This chair is so fun.  It provides spinning movement that seekers crave.  There is also a curtain though that can be closed if a child wants to shut out the world.  

Hoppers

  • Price: about $10, link to one version at Target here
  • Age range: 4 and up
  • These hopper balls will provide a lot of movement input for kids.  They also help work on core strength and balance which make them a great choice!

Scooter

  • Price: about $17 on Amazon, link here
  • Age range: 3 and up
  • Scooters are so versatile.  Not only do they provide movement input, they can be used in a variety of positions including sitting upright and also laying on stomach.  

I hope this post has given you some good ideas for the sensory seekers in your life.  Happy Shopping!

Photo credit: Fun and Function, Target and Amazon websites.

This blog post is for informational purposes only.  Please contact your OT for specific recommendations.  Please supervise children appropriately.

Katie McKenna, MS, OTR/L

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