A sensory toolkit serves as a valuable resource to support individuals with sensory processing difficulties. Following the webinar from Beccie Hawes on Tuesday here is a basic guide to effectively using a sensory toolkit:
- Identify sensory needs: Some individuals may exhibit sensitivity to particular sensory inputs, such as loud noises or bright lights, while others may actively seek sensory stimulation through activities like fidgeting or deep pressure.
- Select appropriate tools: Carefully choose a range of tools that can effectively address the sensory needs identified. A sensory toolkit can include items such as noise-cancelling headphones, sunglasses, weighted blankets, fidget toys, stress balls, chewing necklaces, calming scents and much more.
- Create a portable kit: Gather the selected tools into a portable kit that can be easily carried and accessed whenever required. Use a bag or container with compartments to keep the items organised and readily available. This enables the individual to have their sensory tools accessible at home, school, or anywhere they may need it.
- Educate and explain: Help individuals understand that these tools are intended to support their sensory needs and provide comfort. Provide instructions on how and when to utilise each tool effectively. You will find that many people are able to identify what they need and when they need it without guidance. Others will need to be taught and then supported to develop this skill.
- Introduce self-regulation techniques: These may include deep breathing exercises, mindfulness practices, progressive muscle relaxation, or other calming strategies that assist in managing sensory experiences and emotions.
- Encourage communication and self-advocacy: Foster an open line of communication with the individual using the sensory toolkit. Help them to express their sensory needs and preferences and assist in developing their self-advocacy skills to request the necessary tools or accommodations that will benefit them.
- Practice trial and error: Sensory needs can vary significantly from person to person, so it is essential to experiment with different tools and strategies. Explore the toolkit and make changes as necessary to ensure it adequately meets sensory needs.
- Incorporate routines: Integrate the use of sensory tools into daily routines and activities. For example, if an individual finds it helpful to use a fidget toy during classroom tasks, establish a routine in which they are allowed to use it to support their need.
- Evaluate and adapt: Regularly evaluate the effectiveness of the sensory toolkit. Seek feedback from the individual, check what is working well and identify areas that may require improvement. Adapt the toolkit accordingly to meet evolving sensory needs.
Ultimately, the goal of a sensory toolkit is to support individuals in managing their sensory experiences and promoting self-regulation. By understanding their sensory needs and providing appropriate tools, you can create a more comfortable and engaging environment for them.