As we grow up, our sensory systems experience rapid change to keep up with our rapidly changing world. This means much of childhood is spent processing the same things over and over—leaving Autistic children in particular feeling constantly stimulated by bright lights and loud noises. For many of us, this continues well into adulthood.
The good news is, you can help your child or yourself feel less sensory overload by providing them with more relaxed moments and activities. Reducing sensory stimulation doesn’t have to be all or nothing either; there are so many ways you can reduce sensory overload as a parent from restricting your kid’s time with certain toys or activities, to giving them more relaxed gifts that encourage calmness and self-regulation.
In this article, we’ll outline some of the best life-changing gifts you can give your loved one to reduce their sensory overload. From calming activities to neutral gifts for imaginations of all kinds, you’ll find everything you need here.
Table of Contents
Activity books are a popular gift idea for kids and adults alike. These books provide fun, creative ways to encourage imagination and self-regulation skills at the same time. There is also a wide variety of activity books available on Amazon, so you can find one that matches your interests.
The books, whether for kids or adults, are packed with activities like color by number, dot-to-dot puzzles, matching games, and more! Another option for an activity book is a coloring book. A soothing activity for those who need to feel less overwhelmed, coloring can be helpful in reducing sensory overload as well as fostering creativity.
There are even many adult coloring books featuring calming images that adults can pick up and do together with their kids. Take a look here at the wide range available!
If you’ve never heard of sensory balls, they are simple to make and can provide your child with hours of calm and relaxation. Sensory balls are small balls that look similar to foam but have a unique texture to keep your hands busy. Children love to roll them around on the floor, throw them around, or even chew on them. They’re great for boosting motor development in babies as well as improving motor skills in older children and adults alike.
Sensory balls also come in different colors; if you have a baby, try getting them a set that is light-colored for their sensitive eyes. This will help reduce visual sensory input from bright colors and lights—something babies experience more frequently than adults.For an older child, sensory balls are still a great tool for calming and relaxation.
They can be used as part of a calming routine before bedtime or even between school and sleep time by providing them with some soothing sensory input activity before bedtime. You could also use these during playtime at home—a great idea because it will encourage your child to spend more quality time with you when they’re less anxious about what’s happening around them.
Beeswax candles are a great gift because they provide a calming, familiar smell. Beeswax candles also produce a gentle crackling sound that is soothing to the ears.
Beeswax candles are made of natural ingredients and come with instructions on how to make your own candles if you can’t find them in stores. They make for a wonderful activity for kids, who can learn about the history of beeswax and get creative with their creations!
Another scented option is to get your loved one a diffuser. Aromatherapy diffusers are a great way to diffuse scents into the air around your loved one. They come in many shapes and sizes, so there should be something that suits your loved one.
We’ve mentioned these earbuds on the channel before, but Flare Audio’s Calmer range of earbuds are a game-changer for anyone who struggles with triggers such as loud noises during social interactions, whether that’s due to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or a neurodivergent condition such as ADHD.
These life-changing earbuds not only help reduce noise levels, but also filter out excessive frequencies in background noises that allow Autistic people and those with PTSD to go about their daily lives with less stress. They’re the perfect gift for anyone wanting to experience fewer panic attacks.
These earbuds come in many strengths and sizes depending on your size and the severity of the condition. They also come with a 100-day money-back guarantee which in our eyes is a dealbreaker for anyone wanting to give these a go!
This retro classic sensory-friendly gift is a great stress reliever for anyone with Sensory Processing Disorder, especially Autistic people. Visual sensory stimuli like lava lamps are especially popular with those with issues with motor skills or communication issues where their visual senses are most dominant.
Lava lamps have been around for years, but it’s only more recently many are starting to fully realize their true potential, with more and more professional establishments implementing a variety of colors of lava lamps into their sensory rooms.
What’s more, some companies have started making new designs specifically designed for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. These include a “Sensory Play” lamp that comes with a variety of sounds and vibrations that can be turned on and off independently. Some also make a “Calming Light” lamp that features a soft glow and a relaxing music track. The music can be adjusted to suit the mood and needs of the person using it.
The world is designed to make us explore, but this can lead to sensory overload. The sand table and seaweed play mat help your child learn about the world and boost motor development without overwhelming their senses too quickly. This helps them become more self-regulated and less reactive to things that may cause sensory issues.
Children also grow up with a heightened sense of curiosity, which is one of the best things that could happen for your child. This curiosity can leave your child feeling hyper-stimulated if it’s not channelled in the right way. With this toy, your child will be able to explore at their own pace and in a very calming way.
Many children are not exposed to stories from a young age. This can lead to sensory overload as they begin to process language and symbols beyond what their minds are used to. One simple gift you can give your child is an audiobook or eBook, which will help them become more familiar with stories and have time to process the information without being bombarded by visuals.
And, if you’re not sure what your loved one enjoys listening to or reading, consider an annual subscription to Audible. Amazon do reading subscriptions for their Kindle and Audible services, so these are well worth a look.
Or if you’re feeling traditional you can always opt for a gift card for your local bookshop, many of which have moved into the digital world of audio and literature as well as traditional hardback.
An alternative gift may be a wellbeing subscription such as an annual subscription to meditation software or courses. Headspace is a primary example of this, though others are available as well.
Subscriptions are a great way to get your child involved in something that will benefit them long term. It gives them a chance to try out different activities and see how they work for them. You can also choose to sign up for a monthly or yearly subscription so that you can keep track of how much progress your child has made over time.
Most neurodivergent people aren’t materialistic, either. Many prefer more thoughtful gifts, whether these are custom-made, or in this case, an experience-type gift. Your loved one will see the logical benefits of such a subscription and will appreciate the support in trying to make their life as stress-free as possible.
If you’re loved one is particularly sensitive to smells, consider scent-free care products. These are often homemade, which gives them a nice personal touch, especially during festive seasons such as Christmas. If you’re feeling particularly creative, why not have a go at your own!
Scent-free products are a great option for those who suffer from allergies, asthma, or other respiratory conditions. They can also be useful for those who struggle with migraines or other headaches.
Similarly, scent-free gifts aren’t just for the home, but also the body and mind too. Massage Oil is perfect for anyone who suffers from chronic pain, anxiety, or depression, or consider a scent-free hamper of toiletries. Whether you source your scent-free products locally or online, make sure to find out first what kind of products the other person likes to avoid disappointment!
Sensory overload symptoms can be reduced in the first place by reducing the number of triggers in the surroundings. The above sensory gifts are great to help alleviate these common symptoms, but it’s always best to think about what’s around you. Do you need the radio on when in the car? Or can the television be turned off if the kids are watching their tablets with headphones on?
By combining active steps to reduce sensory stimuli in the home with a combination of these life-changing distraction gifts above, you’re well on your way to making the lives of those who struggle with sensory issues much calmer than ever before.
Check out more of our gift ideas for inspiration today!
Last Updated on March 8, 2023 by Neurodadversity
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