Porch, the home services platform, recently reached out to Therapro for help with their latest article, How to Build a Sensory Room at Home, Tips from the Experts. The question needing an answer was, what are the best tactile sensory tools to include in home sensory rooms? Therapro’s team of experts had a lot to say on this topic! Read on to see what Therapro shared and be sure to check out the full article.
Tactile sensory tools offer a rewarding experience. There are many options to choose from. Therapro’s top picks include:
Fidgets. Fidgets are small, portable and versatile tactile sensory tools that are a great edition to home sensory rooms. Fidgets can offer calming or alerting input depending on their characteristics. To help users better decide which fidget is best for them, the team of occupational therapists at Therapro has put together a free handy guide, Find Your Fidgetthat is available for download at therapro.com! Pro tip: Fidgets are also a great transition object to help with the move into and out of the sensory space!
Happy Senso: Happy Senso is a sensory gel that offers a unique multisensory experience. It can be sprayed directly into the palms of the hands or on a flat surface (like a table). Squish, press, and slide hands along the cool gel and listen to the crackling and popping sounds it makes. It is available in four different scents and colors for an enhanced sensory experience.
Gel Activity Pads: Gel pads are exactly what they sound like, gel filled pads that can be pressed and squished with the hands, fingers, or even feet! Available in four different styles, activity ideas are endless; play games (like tic tac toe) or simply enjoy the combined visual and tactile sensory experience. As an added bonus, these gel pads offer slight weight and so can double as a weighted lap pad!
Calm Strips. Calm Strips are textured sensory stickers with a special reusable adhesive that are designed to be picked, touched, scratched, and peeled over and over again. These tactile sensory tools are a perfect addition to home sensory rooms. They can be adhered to any surface to add an additional tactile sensory experience and help regulate restless energy.
When it comes to building your sensory space, Therapro is the resource for families and professionals, be sure to check out all of Therapro’s sensory resources at therapro.com!
The ability to independently complete essential daily living tasks becomes increasingly more important as individuals near the pre-teen and teen years. For teens with diverse learning profiles the ability to master these critical skills can be challenging. However, there are readily available tools that can help promote independence! In this post we are covering a few low to mid tech solutions that can be a game changer for teens struggling with the ability to independently complete critical self care tasks.
Elastic Shoe Laces. There is nothing more frustrating than a loose shoe or tripping over untied laces but asking for help can be even harder. The good news is there is a simple solution, elastic shoe laces! Simply replace standard shoe laces with elastic shoe laces. Once in place, secure with a double knot and standard bow. The elastic shoe laces provide enough stretch to simply slip on and slip out of shoes, eliminating the need for tying.
Schedules & Time Cues. Remembering when to do something or remembering the correct sequence of a task can be difficult for teens who struggling with executive function deficits. These teens often rely on a support person to provide prompts for task initiation and sequencing which decreases their overall independence. The good news is there is a variety of readily available assistive technology tools that can support a teen’s ability to manage time with greater independence. Check out our previous post, Assistive Technology for Time Management, for ideas!
Picture Adapted Cookbooks: Preparing a simple meal or snack is one of the greatest acts of independence for pre teens and teens. This simple right of passage can be missed for teens who struggle with reading or have difficulty with multi step tasks. Picture supported cookbooks can help users with limited reading abilities prepare simple meals and snacks. The Stepwise Cookbook series takes this concept a step further and truly simplifies the process. Each cookbook has a set of picture supported recipes that are presented in a simplified, easy to follow format.
Small modifications and the use of mid to low tech assistive technology can be a powerful tool for independence. Be sure to visit to assistive technology section of Therapro’s website to see all of the available tools!
The ability to manage time is an essential life skill that is critical to independence. When the ability to manage time is impeded by factors like decreased executive functioning abilities or cognitive limitations, independence can also be impacted. In this post we are covering a few mid to low tech assistive technology solutions that can support time management abilities.
Remembering to do a task at a scheduled time is one time management skill area. While smart devices are often loaded with ‘reminder’ features, there are times when a non screen option is preferred. The Time Cue and Voice Cue are great options! Simply record any message and set the time for the message to be played.
TheTime Cue allows for a single message, up to 10 seconds long to be recorded and played back at a set time. For example, record “go to gym class” and set it to play 1:25 (or whenever gym class is happening!). There is even a space to include a picture of the activity for additional support!
The Voice Cue can record up to five messages, with 60 seconds of total recording time. This is a great tool for tasks like remembering to take morning and evening medications.
Multi step tasks are another area of time management that present their own set of challenges including remembering the order of the sequence, remembering to do all of the steps in the sequence, and doing the steps for the correct amount of time. There are a variety of assistive technology options available that can help.
The Two Minute Turtle Toothbrush Timer helps cue the user through the steps of toothbrushing, ensuring all quadrants of the mouth are brushed for the recommended amount of time. It works by pushing a button on the top of the turtle which causes one of the turtle’s fins to light up. Each of the turtle’s four fins represents a quadrant of the mouth. Each fin will stay lit for the recommended 30 seconds of brushing time. When time is up, the light in one fin will turn off and the next fin will light up indicating it is time to move to the next area of the mouth! Pro tip, this is also a great tool for handwashing!
Visual schedules, whether written out or picture supported, can be a game changer for individuals who have impaired executive function skills and who need support managing multi step tasks. Schedules can be created for specific routines (like a morning self care routine), for parts of the day (like a morning classroom schedule), or the whole day. SchKIDules offers a quick and easy solution for creating picture supported schedules. The Home Bundle includes 72, 2”x2” magnets that depict common routines, chores, outings and extracurricular activities. The Education Bundle includes 66, 2”x2”, magnets that depict common school and special education activities.
Time Visualization Helpers
Conceptualizing the passage of time is a third area of time management and this can be tricky! Offering a visual repression of time and time passage can not only help with this concept but it can also decrease stress and anxiety. Visual timers are the perfect solution for this challenge area.
Time Timers offer a simple solution for time management. With the patented red disk, Time Timer makes elapsing time concrete by reaffirming the analog clock in its clockwise movement and provides the ability to judge how much time is left without having to know how to tell time. Simply move the colored disk to the desired amount of time, as time elapses, the colored disk disappears.
Resetea is a time management tool that offers the ability to sequence up to 12 related tasks. It is different from a typical schedule because of the unique light cue that marks the passage of time. To set it up, first use the included template builder to create a sequence of tasks (for example homework and then free time or math class, English class, lunch) and then place the visual in front of the light screen. Next set the desired time for each activity (up to 60 minutes) and press start. The activity schedule is back lit with progress colors; no light indicates future task(s), white light indicates the task in progress, and red light indicates task(s) completed.
There are a variety of tools available to support users ability to manage time. Helping users access and utilize these tools will support overall independence!