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Your guide to sensory stimulation aids

Your guide to sensory stimulation aids

Sensory stimulation is the activation of one or more of the five human senses. It can help people of all ages, who may have a physical disability, learning disability, health condition or mental health condition, to communicate, experience positive emotions and bring about relaxation.

There are different types of sensory aids that stimulate different senses, with some of the most popular including:

Many sensory aids can be used together, if appropriate, to provide a variety of sensory experiences, and these should be tailored to the specific needs of the person using them.

What are sensory stimulation aids and why should you use them?

What are sensory stimulation aids and why should you use them?

Sensory aids include a range of equipment and toys that provide auditory (sound), visual (sight) olfactory (smell) proprioceptive (movement/touch) and oral (taste) stimulation. They can help to promote brain activity and motor skills or be used for relaxation and therapy.

They can be used with people of all ages and those who experience or engage in the following behaviours may benefit from sensory aids:

  • Communication difficulties or isolation – sensory aids can help promote interaction and socialising with others
  • Sensory seeking or sensory avoiding – some people with special needs may need or really avoid certain sensations, and sensory aids can help to stimulate the senses they tolerate and enjoy
  • Anxiety, agitation and restlessness – sensory aids can be calming and grounding
It is important to understand what a person’s needs are before embarking on sensory stimulation activities. Different activities and aids work better for different people.

Which sensory aids are right for you?

Tactile sensory bag

  • Ideal for someone who enjoys using their sense of touch
  • Items can be used by the person or gently by the caregiver on the person’s body, if the person allows and responds well to this
  • Variety of textures to feel and fiddle with
  • Can help reduce stress, anxiety and agitation
  • Suitable for children and adults
Tactile sensory bag
Dark den accessory kit

Dark den accessory kit

  • Ideal for someone who enjoys visual stimulation
  • Items can be used in a darkened room or Sensory Pod for best effects
  • Can help to reduce boredom and agitation
  • Can create a calming environment
  • Suitable for children and adults
Sensory aids are very safe to use but it is advisable to supervise the child or adult whilst they are using them, to ensure the equipment is used correctly, and to consider possible risks according to the individual.

Things to consider

It is really important to understand what a person likes and dislikes and what needs you are hoping to meet using sensory activities. This will help guide you in which equipment to buy and use, and will ensure the person you are supporting is likely to benefit from the sensory therapy.

There are a number of sensory kits available, such as the Visual Effects Sensory BagOptical Effects Sensory Bag and Body Massage Sensory Bag which are perfect for group use. These are also great to use at home with one person, who may enjoy exploring different items in the kit and which will prevent boredom.

You may need to look at changing the environment at home, school or care home, in order to carry out sensory activities in the most effective way. For example, you may need to create a quiet space without interruption, or a comfortable area for you to sit, enjoy and explore sensory aids.

Our sense of smell is really important and different aromas can help stimulate the nervous system and limbic system, which controls emotions. Using aromatherapy for people who enjoy smells can help promote relaxation and relieve stress. 

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Why buy from us

We’ve been working for over 70 years to help people maintain their independence for longer through daily living aids and support from our team of Occupational Therapists. As members of the British Healthcare Trades Association, we abide by a strict code of practice and will never force you to buy a product you don’t need.

If you need any help in deciding if a product is right for you and your unique mobility needs, please contact our Expert Advice Service.

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