Sensory Meltdown VS Tantrum

I want you to know that you are not alone, I know how hard this can be for you. I have carried my kids out of restaurants, malls and dentist offices while they screamed, yelled and even took off their clothes, more times than I can count. I know how exhausting it is when you have a child who has meltdowns, especially when it's several times a day. 

I have avoided bringing my children to different events or putting them in many situations in fear that they would have a meltdown. I remember being so consumed with how embarrassed I would feel if everyone was staring, judging and talking about us.

You have no reason to feel ashamed, nor do you have anything to be embarrassed about. 

Over time, we learn how to avoid meltdowns, we learn our child's sensory triggers and our own as well. We learn new, more effective ways to cope in these situations as well as what sensory tools we need to bring while on an outing. This will get easier over time, I promise you. 

Sensory overload happens when one or more of our senses become overwhelmed. This can happen if a child smells something different that is too strong, they are in a crowded new place or they are in an environment that is too loud. 

The brain is receiving too much information at once to process it properly. 

Sensory Processing Disorder is a neurological disorder that happens when a person finds it difficult to process sensory input. 

Children who have Sensory processing Disorder usually fall into two categories, a seeker or an avoider. Most people think that you have to be one category or the other when in fact, it's more common to be in both.

Hypersensitive means that you are more sensitive (over-responsive) to input than others. This may look like covering your ears when a vacuum is turned on because it is too loud. Or struggling with the feeling of your clothing, even to the point of not being able to wear clothes. At times we refer to people that are hypersensitive as avoiders, they want to avoid certain types of input because they are more sensitive to them.

Hyposensitive means that you are less sensitive (under-responsive) to input than others. Meaning you may want or crave more input to feel regulated and fulfilled. This may look like constantly moving, spinning, jumping, or playing rough with others. At times we refer to people that are hyposensitive as seekers.

There are several other conditions that are connected to sensory overload and Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Autism, Fibromyalgia, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), anxiety disorders, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Tourette's Syndrome and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Sensory Processing Disorder Types Of Sensory Input 
(our senses) 

1. Tactile

2. Visual

3. Auditory

4. Gustation

5. Olfactory

6. Proprioception

7. Vestibular

8. Interoception

What causes a meltdown?  

- Overstimulation

- Changes to routines

- Excessive demands

- Seeking sensory input 

- Unexpected or unpredictable

- Situations that are new or unfamiliar

- Sensory Overload 

- Dysregulation 

- Hungry or thirsty 

- Inability to communicate needs 

(even minor changes can cause extreme stress)

Signs Of Sensory Overload 

Sensory overload can feel and look different for everyone. 

- sleepiness
- anxiety
- reduced eye contact 
- inability to relax
- changes in muscle tone
- self-harming behavior
- increased stimming
- physical discomfort 
- loss of balance 
- shutting down
- meltdowns
- stressed
- stomach aches
- nausea
- screaming 
- angry outbursts 
- fidgeting
- hiding
- restlessness 
- hyperactivity 
- increased chewing objects 
- distracted
- emotionally withdrawing 
- unable to complete tasks 
- unwilling to participate
- running away
- sweaty 
- doesn't want to be looked at 
- increased sensitivity to clothing
- socially withdrawing
- fast breathing 
- avoiding situations 
- disorientated 
- crying and yelling 
- covering ears
- panic
- muscle tension
- covering eyes
- avoiding places 
- glazed over eyes 
- doesn't want to be touched
- difficulty focusing
- high levels of excitement 
- unable to concentrate 

Signs Of Sensory Overload
- anxiety and panic
- reduced eye contact
- self-harming behavior
- increased stimming
- meltdowns and angry outbursts
- fidgeting and hyperactivity
- increased chewing objects
- distracted and difficulty focusing
- emotionally withdrawing
- unwilling to participate
- running away or hiding
- increased sensitivity to clothing
- socially withdrawing
- fast breathing
- crying and yelling
- covering ears or eyes
- muscle tension
- avoiding places or situations
- doesn't want to be touched

Tantrum VS Meltdown


- A meltdowns are not a choice and are neurological

- The child is reacting to feeling overwhelmed

- Continues without reaction or audience
- A meltdown is not goal dependent 

- The child is experiencing too much sensory input to process 

- Will not bargain 

- Fight, flight and freeze response 

- The child may shut down and get tired  

- Children will cry, scream, yell or run away
- May require assistance to gain control 

When your child is having a sensory meltdown, it doesn't mean that you are a bad parent. 

When your child is having a meltdown, it is important to remain calm, your child needs reassurance that they are safe. Eliminate the sensory input that is causing them to meltdown by taking your child away from the overstimulating environment. Take them to a place where it is calm and remove anything that is dangerous so they cannot hurt themselves. Eliminate the sensory input that is causing them to meltdown.

Encourage them to practice their mindful breathing techniques and give them some space to do their breathing. Ask your child if they would like to be hugged, squeezed and held. Some children want to be held, while others do not want to be touched at all. 

Another great idea is to put together a calm down kit for your child to take on outings so you're prepared for unexpected meltdowns. This calm down kit could include: 

1. noise reduction headphones

3. weighted blanket or weighted lap pad

4. bubbles

5. sensory chew necklace

6. sensory calming bottle

7. calm essential oil roller

8. weighted vest 

9. kaleidoscope 

10. silly putty

11. chewy or crunchy snack

12. sunglasses

13. mini massager

14. Play dough or sensory putty 

In addition to staying calm, as hard as that can be, try to be understanding, don't try to reason with them or make demands when they are in a heightened state. Most importantly, don't judge them or try to discipline them.


- A tantrum is behavioral 

- A tantrum will stop when children get wat they want and their goal is accomplished

- Children will have some control over their behavior during a tantrum

- uses bargaining as a tactic 

- Can develop into a meltdown 

- Tantrums are a choice 
- They will have an angry or frustrated outburst because they're not getting what they want 

- Children will cry, scream, yell and hold their breath

-The child will usually look to an audience to perform

- A child usually checks for engagement 

          When your child is having a tantrum, it doesn't mean that you are a bad parent. 

When children have tantrums, they are struggling to communicate their needs or wants in an appropriate way. When your child is having a tantrum, remember to be empathetic and stay calm. Give them some space while staying close by so you know they are being safe. 

You want to create an environment that is safe to express their feelings. Offer them a hug and let them know that you love them. When talking to them, get down to their level and talk calmly, face to face helps them feel like they're being heard. 

Set up a calm down space with calming tools where they can practice their breathing techniques or listen to calm music. 

If you do not handle tantrums earlier on, it can lead to more intense behavioral issues later on. Tantrums are a completely normal part of being a child, as a parent, it is up to us how we handle them. It's imperative that we don't give in to what they want no matter how embarrassing their behavior can be while out. They need to learn that adults make the decisions. 

Modeling good behavior during tantrums will help our children learn how to behave. If we are yelling and getting angry, they will think that is how they should behave too. Not only toddlers have tantrums, but teenagers also have tantrums as well. Validate your child's feelings while settings appropriate limits on unwanted behaviors. If you take a positive parenting approach, your children will gain great self-control skills and learn to self-regulate.

How to avoid meltdowns and sensory overload

We cannot stop all meltdowns, but we can try to avoid some from happening. You can avoid certain situations or sensations that cause your child to feel overwhelmed when you are aware of what triggers them. 

Therapy can be very beneficial for children who are struggling with sensory overload. An Occupational Therapist can assist you in learning your child's triggers and help you to set up a sensory diet for them. 

Activities such as breathing techniques, meditation, yoga and mindfulness training can be extremely helpful for your child and you as well.  

Explain your child's needs to your family and friends so that they are aware and able to help. When you are attending family functions there are different strategies you can use to make it more sensory friendly for your child. You can ask them to turn the lights down dimmer, lower the music, invite less people or have a designated calm down quiet space for your child. 

Large gatherings, parties, concerts, sports games with flashing lights, loud music and big crowds can be very overwhelming to someone who has sensory challenges. These types of events can cause children to go into sensory overload and have a meltdown. As fun as they would be for some, they aren't as fun for others. Avoiding these places will avoid sensory meltdowns. 

You should always have a plan B. If things are not working out and they are too much for your child, plan an escape route. If you plan ahead, you can figure out where the closest exits and bathrooms are located.

If your child is triggered by loud sounds, take noise reduction headphones with you. If your child is bothered by bright lights, you can take sunglasses with you. A calm down anxiety kit with therapy tools to assist your child are always helpful for outings. 

Regular sensory activities, heavy work activities and following a sensory diet will cut down on meltdowns, how often they happen and their intensity. This will give them the sensory input they need for all their sensory systems. Don't wait until it is too late, and they are already overstimulated, have regularly scheduled sensory breaks throughout the day. 

Use social stories to explain where you are going and what they will be doing so that your child knows what to expect. If they know what to expect, they are far less likely to meltdown from unexpected situations. Providing predictability for your child will make them feel a lot less anxious. Visual schedules of events and counting down to an outing will cut down on anxiety and sensory meltdowns. Give them warnings when it is time to leave and how much longer they have. Using a visual timer can be helpful so they see when it will be time to transition.

Benefits To Having a Sensory Self- Soothing Travel Kit

Sensory overload can be extremely difficult for both our children and ourselves when we are running errands, attending appointments or travelling to short or longer destinations. This is why it is so important to find the best tools for your child and have them available to them. 

An Occupational Therapist can assist you to find the right sensory tools for your child's sensory needs.

There are so many benefits to using sensory kits. 

- Self-Regulation 
- Fine Motor Skills  
- Calming
- Play Skills 
- Hand/Eye Coordination 
- Child Led Exploration 
- Hands On learning 
- Motor  Development 

What To Put In A Sensory Self- Soothing Travel Kit

Sensory boxes are usually for when you are on the go. They don't need to be expensive and can be within your budget. A trip to a few dollar stores will help you cut down on the costs as they now sell fidgets, putty and other sensory products. 

You can rotate sensory box items throughout the year. Your child can experience new sensory items regularly. Some parents like to switch out sensory items in their child's kits for different holidays, themes and seasons. 

You can put your child's sensory kit items in a caddy, backpack, reusable bag or a plastic container. Decide what to put the sensory items in based on your affordability and needs. 

The container you choose doesn't really matter as much as what is in the bag or box. 

You could make it a fun activity for you and your child and decorate a box together. 

What you can add to a calm down kit 

Tactile Sensory Tools  (what you feel/touch) 

Sensory Diet Tactile Activities
- brushing different textured brushes over the skin
- drawing with chalk on the body
- massage with oils, lotions and powders
brushing for sensory defensiveness 
- rubbing different fabric textures against the skin
- drawing in sand or salt
- sensory play (water, sand, slime play dough, clay)
- finger painting
- sensory bins (rice, beans)
- face and body painting
- bubble bath and swimming
- body tattoos or stickers on the body
- deep pressure 
- gardening and plating flowers
- toys with vibration
- playing in the mud
- cooking and baking

Adding clay, sensory dough, pieces of different fabrics, stress balls or putty are all fantastic tactile sensory tools. As I said earlier, it doesn't need to be expensive but here are some tactile sensory ideas for you. 

Little Chubby One Sensory Textured Squares - Mini Pillows and Patches - Set of 20 Different Covered Squares Promotes Sensory Learning Motor Skills Tactile Awareness and Vocabulary Great Gift for Kids
20-Piece Set: Little Chubby One’s Sensory Textured Squares includes 10 pairs of pillows and patches, boasting bold colors and various textures to help children develop tactile discrimination skills.
Developmental Skills: A relaxing and calming activity for kids, these textured squares encourage children to engage in hands-on, tactile play, helping them to develop social and emotional interactions.
Textured Squares: Is the material scratchy, slippery, silky or soft? With multiple, textured surfaces, children can enjoy a variety of hands-on activities including matching, descriptors, communication and tactile discrimination.

Durable Textured Stretchy String Fidget and Sensory Toy - 15 Packs of Individually Packaged Monkey Noodles We at Kelz Kidz have again taken a popular toy and developed it to a new level! Each box contains 5 different noodle textures for a much more enhanced sensory experience. Check out our “Bumpy”, “Spiky”, “Ridges”, “Liner”, and of course our classic “Smooth”. Every noodle has ball endings for a greater grip as you pull and stretch for loads of fun! These extra stimuli are especially beneficial for those with Autism, ADD, and Anxiety!
When we write Kids Safe we really mean it. As with all of our toys, we test our Stretchy Strings under highly qualified testing labs to ensure that every aspect of our construction is completely safe for kids and adults alike. They are 100% latex free, BPA free, and fully hypoallergenic.

Wikki Stix Fidgit Stix
A fun, simple and colorful presentation just for those who need some hands-on fidget “therapy”! 36 Wikki Stix in six bright colors, in a reclosable poly bag making it easy to keep this fidget toy handy.
Ideal for fidgety fingers on airplanes… or during those long, boring zoom meetings…or just to have something soothing and calming to manipulate in-hand.
Easy to bend, twist and shape… again and again. Soft, pliable and quiet…perfect for fidgety fingers whenever the need arises.
Easy to tuck into briefcase, carry-on or purse…and a super fun stocking stuffer!

Tangle Pets Aquatic 2-Pack Dolphin and Octopus - Cute Fidgets for Boys and Girls - Aquatic Fidget Toys - Sea Creature Fidget Toys - Tangle Fidgets
Genuine Tangle Toys: Our tangle fidget toys are made up of toxin free. Our Toys are real officially licensed tangles and are not fake lower quality tangles. Tangled toys are meant to be taken apart, put back together, and used over and over, so tangled fidget toy been made to the highest standards so you can get used after use out of them. Fidget with Tangle now!
Aquatic Fidgets: Fidget with your friends from under the sea with Tangle Aquatic pets. This bundle includes the Tangle Dolphin and Tangle Octopus. Get these cute sea creatures in your collections today

11''Stretchy Spaghetti Ball,Fidget String Noodles Sensory Toy,Fiddle Autism Stress Toy,Pasta Autism,ADD,ADHD Classroom Tools
Stretchy Spaghetti Ball Fidget Noodle Sensory Fidget Fiddle Autism Stress Toy Fidget or sensory toys help with sensory integration, build motor skills, and teach self-regulation. They help maintain focus and help a child on the autism spectrum, a.d.h.d, a.d.d and/or sensory processing disorder, better process information. For some children sensory fidgets can also be helpful in maintaining socially acceptable behaviors. A fidget toy provides an outlet for excess energy, making it easier for a child to control or reduce their impulsive reaching out and touching everything around them.

Fidget Toys Stress and Anxiety Relief Marble Mesh Fidget Toy - Pack of 10 Silent Mesh and Marble Fidget Toy
The mesh and marble fidget toy helps improve attention and offers stress and anxiety relief. They are highly recommended by therapists and teachers as silent sensory fidgets for classroom with ADHD & concentration issues. Our fidget toys stress and anxiety relief calm you & help increase focus and attention.
With their texture & smooth, these ADHD fidget toys for sensory kids will BREAK HABITS like nail biting, twisting hair, or pen ticking. 

Therapy Shoppe Jumbo Crystal Squeeze Ball
NEW! Jumbo 5" liquid-filled squeeze ball with thick rubbery skin and shiny swirling ribbons that dance & twirl around inside it! This captivating sensory fidget ball weighs just over 1 pound and is a jiggly, wiggly tactile delight for sensory seekers ages 6+!  A calming (or alerting) eye-candy fidget tool for short brain breaks at school, home, or the office. A nice 2-handed bilateral stress relief fiddle tool.  Jumbo Crystal Squeeze Balls are designed for gentle-moderate fidgeting.  Please note it will leak and break if it's overstretched or punctured/poked with a sharp object.  Not for young children.  Sensational!

Beadeez Squishy Stress Balls with DNA Spiky Textures (3-Pack) Colorful Sensory Toy and Stress Relief for Kids, Adults - Squeezy Water Beads - Promote Calm Focus for ADHD, Autism
Squishy, Spiky, and Colorful Fun – Beadeez! stretchy stress balls feature DNA colored water beads and a spiky to provide both mental and physical stimulation in a safe, non-toxic toy that’s perfect for restoring focus and relieving stress or anxiety.
Exciting Sensory Toy Pack – This 3-pack of stress relief toys for adults and kids are small enough to be enjoyed at home, in the car, at work, or on the go, providing support for those with ADHD, autism, fidgeting, or stress-related behaviors.

Frankie Smunchie Smunchies® are a 2-in-1 hair & sensory accessory lovingly made to provide discrete sensory companionship at home or on the go with unmatched hold & lift for your hair. 
Pinch, smoosh, fidget & squeeze to your heart's content. Smunchies are designed with your wellness in mind providing an easy go-to for self-soothing and sensory processing. 
We strive to curate luscious and soothing textures, colors, and patterns that deliver a sensory experience with just the right squish and give for tingle-worthy feels.
Smunchies offer all the benefits of your regular scrunchie or hair tie and more!
Our patent-pending squishy interior delivers an unexpected added lift & support keeping your hair way up and out of your way effortlessly.

Twistle Squish Lime The perfect solution for when you have a case of the wiggles or a little anxiety. Reduce stress and manage anxiety by keeping fingers busy with a focused mind. With quiet and smooth movements, these fidget toys twist into fun shapes and designs.
Mix and match with other Twistles for more imaginative play.
Perfect for treasure chest rewards and incentives.
Thirty-two 13/16" links covered with a squishy silicone material.

Special Supplies Squishy Fuzzy Band Bracelets for Kids, 6 Pack, Flexible and Stretchy Wearable Sensory Toys, Tactile Silicone Squiggly Touch, Bright and Colorful Wristbands
Stretchy, Squishy Bracelets – This 6-pack of tactile elastic wrist bands make fun and colorful wearable jewelry for kids who love being fashionable but also enjoy toys that are interactive, stretchable, and can be pulled and tossed around.
Interactive Sensory Toys – The soft, textured feel of the squiggly fingers along the bands not only feel yummy on the skin and fingers they can help kids relax and refocus.
Comfortable, Wearable Silicone – We only use high-quality, skin-safe silicone in our bracelets for kids which makes them gentler on sensitive skin and more soothing for those with texture or stimulation needs.

INNER-ACTIVE Play Putty Therapy Putty for Kids with Charms Deep Blue Sea Theraputty Soft Resistance, Increase Fine Motor Skills and Finger Strength, Physical and Occupational Therapy Toy
Contains 3.5oz silicone therapy putty and a set of 10 beautifully hand painted charms (seahorse, octopus, dolphin, fish, whale, penguin, starfish, walrus, crab, and a snail) in a 4" metal tin that can withstand years of use
THERAPY TOOL – Play for hours, kneading, squeezing, bouncing, tearing, and stretching; searching for animals gives kneading regular, boring putty more fun, develop fine motor skills, intrinsic hand muscles and coordination, increases finger strength and in-hand manipulation skills, Sensory tool for tactile input

Visual Sensory Tools (what you see)

Sensory Diet Visual Activities
- sensory bottles
- color matching games
- light table activities
-  visual schedules 
- marble mazes
- light up toys
- spinning toys
- kaleidoscopes
- catching a ball
- I spy games
- bean bag toss
- stringing beads
- liquid motion toys
- drawing pictures
- dot to dot worksheets
- water play
- shadow puppets
- bubbles
- fidgets 

Adding photos of things or people your child loves, blowing bubbles, affirmation cards or letting your child look through photos on your phone are all great ideas. They don't need to be expensive. Here are some visual sensory tools for more ideas. 

Breathing Exercise Cards for Kids: Help Children to Calm and Focus
You can use these cards during brain breaks in the classroom, transition times, as part of your calm corner, or simply explore breath-ing exercises at home with your kids. There are thirty unique exercises to choose from.
These cards are easy to use and cap-ture the attention of children from ages 4 years on up. The design is clear, and the illustrations are realistic, allowing children to easily visualize the breathing techniques. The colorful breath-ing exercise cards guide them through each technique. This deck also includes a handy index and detailed instructions for each exercise so you'll feel confident introducing these breathing techniques to your children.

Expandable Breathing Ball Toy Sphere for Kids & Adults, Expands from 5.6" to 12" - Kids Fidgets Toys ADHD, Yoga Relaxation Meditation Accessories
 Relax and calm your mind & body with this expandable breathing ball techniques that is designed to bring the body into a state of deep relaxation
Expands from 5.5" to 12" Hold in front of your belly, take deep breath in while Expanding the ball, exhale slowly while contracting the sphere.
Can be used for Kids & Adults with Anxiety, stress relief toys for calming center for classroom, Kinetic calming fidget toys, ADHD tools, anxiety toys, mindful breathing exercise gadgets, yoga accessory for relaxation. Autism Toys, office desk fidget

Fusion Sensory Tubes for Kids, Colors Mix for Visual Sensory Play, Fidget Tubes for Students, Occupational Therapy Toys Liquid Motion Bubbler Count Down Timer (Set of 2)
Explore Colors - Set of 2 color fusion sensory tubes takes primary colors and mixes them to form secondary colors – red + yellow = orange and blue + yellow = green
Vibrant and beautiful colors that will come together and separate again and again and could be used indefinitely as a teaching tool for children learning about primary and secondary colors
Occupational Therapy Tool – Recommended for calm down corners for relaxing, calming and de-stressing or given for sensory break to provide visual stimulation, could be used as a visual timer when colors are fused together and separates again to work on patience and taking turns

2-Pack Original Monkey Fidget Star Kid Sensory Toys to Help Calm & Focus - 3D Star Shaped Fidget Toys for Stress Relief in Children - Multi-Color Fidget Toy Pack for Mesmerizing Hours of Fun

Stop Your Kid From Monkeying Around – Our fidget pack is for children who need a little distraction to help channel their energy. The bright blue and yellow colors of this fidget set will help stimulate their creativity while providing tactile fun

Stress-Relieving 2 Pack – These mesmerizing anxiety relief toys will help keep your child calm and focused. With a fidget pack of 2, keep one at school and one at home. Create stationary stars or move them into fascinating telescope positions

Sensory Hand Fidget Spinner Toy, ADHD Autism Anixiety Stress Relief Gift for Adults Students and Kids (Small 2pcs)
According to the different thickness of individual fingers, we have designed 3 rings of different sizes to match the fingers. The size can be suitable for people of all ages. 
Rounded corners and smooth surface protect your hands from scratches
Just insert one finger into the ring and turn it, no tricks required, and it's ready to use right out of the box
By rotating the sensory toys, you can relieve the stress and anxiety caused by work or life. For people who are born with ADHD and inattention, fidget toys are great for helping them focus and think deeply

Liquid Motion Bubble Timer - Rectangular Sensory Relaxation Water Toy
The descending bubbles have a soothing and mesmerizing effect that will keep kids entertained for hours. These sensory toys can help improve visual tracking skills.
Its slow and rhythmic drops have a very appeasing effect and actually help kids with sensory or hyperactivity. Makes perfect autism sensory toys to sooth and remain focused.

Endless hours of calming entertainment.

hand2mind ColorMix Sensory Fidget Tubes, Anxiety Relief Toy, Occupational Therapy Toys, Fidget Toys for Kids, Kids Sensory Toys for Sensory Play, Anxiety Relief Items for Kids (Set of 3)
Sensory Products Built For Social Emotional Learning
Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is the process by which children and adults understand and manage emotions; set and achieve positive goals; learn, observe and model empathy; establish and maintain positive relationships; and make responsible decisions. Learning to manage feelings, respond positively to stressful situations, and get along with others is a vital part of childhood development.

QB Hive Unicorn Sensory Bottle - Zen Bottle - Sparkle Glitter Jar - Meditation & Mindfulness Tool - Great for Focus
Easy to Use - just give this calming unicorn themed jar a vigorous shake and watch the glitter move and shine.
This shimmering unicorn sensory bottle is sure to please with the combination of glitter and confetti shaped like unicorn horns, heads, and full bodies.
With eye-catching and mesmerizing pink, purple, blue and gold, you'll start to believe that unicorns may not be fantasy after all!
Useful anywhere – use to unwind, add a unicorn theme to your home, bring to the office to reduce stress, use as a meditation & mindfulness tool, as a fidget and focus tool, and more.

Hand2mind Mindful Maze Boards, 3 Double Sided Breathing Boards with Finger Paths, Mindfulness for Kids, Social Emotional Learning, Sensory Board, Anxiety Relief Items, Occupational Therapy Toys
A screen free way to teach kids how to sooth themselves with hands-on resources that help build social-emotional skills for children by providing cues and physical objects to guide kids through breathing exercises. Mindful Maze Boards would make a great addition to your therapy toys.
Each set of our Mindful Mazes comes with three double-sided mindful maze boards. Mindful Maze Boards would be a great addition to your calm down toys for your classroom, daycare or home calming corner!
Our calming sensory toys are perfect for occupational therapy activities for kids. 

hand2mind PAWZ The Calming Pup, Learn Deep Breathing, Rechargeable Animal Night Light, Kids Anxiety Relief, Mindfulness for Kids, Calm Down Corner Supplies, Social Emotional Learning Activities
PAWZ, the Calming Pup, will become a beloved, calming companion to each child, as it's auto-adjusting light guides children though deep breathing patterns.
Perfect for any calming corner, each kid will follow the lighted prompts: inhaling when the light gets brighter and then exhaling as the light fades.
This engaging breathing activity encourages children to be fully present and bring awareness to their thoughts and feelings, while also learning to manage stressful situations and provide anxiety relief for kids.

Retro Light Up Kids Toys Includes 8 Inch Gyro Wheel and 8.5 Inch Rail Twister - Fun Gift for Boys and Girls - Great Sensory Toy with Spinning and Flashing Light Effects
These magnetic gyro wheels don’t easily come off, feature well-aligned rails, and are fitted with LEDs that don’t prematurely short out. This gives the two light up toys durability to make for countless hours of play. The magnetic gyro wheel also presents the perfect opportunity to give your little one a fun science lesson. The fascinating lighting effects and movement create a soothing effect that can help curb hyperactivity. These retro-inspired spinning toys encourage enhanced motor skills and valuable hand exercise during play time. 

hand2mind Mindful Maze Garden Pack, Finger Labyrinth for Kids, Mindfulness for Kids, Sensory Play Therapy Toys, Calm Down Corner Supplies, Social Emotional Learning Activities (Set of 2)
2 double-sided boards cover 4 breathing patterns.
Breathing tracks are large enough to fit pom-poms, rice, beans, etc., to add a multisensory element to exploring mindfulness.
A screen free way to teach children how to sooth themselves by providing cues and physical objects to guide them through breathing exercises.
These Mindful Maze Boards would make a great addition to your calm down corner toys, classroom, daycare, or home calming corner!

Auditory  Sensory Tools (what you hear)  

Sensory Diet Auditory Activities
- use noise reduction headphones 
- listen to music
- play clapping games
- walk and listen to nature
- play an instrument
- listen to audio books
- use a sound machine
- shake a rice sensory bottle 
- sing in a microphone
- play matching sound games
- play speaking and listening games
- storytelling
- play with sound puzzles
- dance to different music
- play telephone games
- practice heavy work activities 

A small portable sound machine or listening to calming music on their tablet are both auditory sensory tools that you can use when you and your child are on the go. Here are some visual sensory tool ideas when putting together your child's sensory kit. 

Finger Poppers Fidget Toy - Finger Fidget Toy for Adults and Kids - Finger Strengthener and Exerciser - Fidget Toy Ring Sensory Toy- Pop Tube Occupational Therapy Toys, Pack of 2
Pop tube fidgety toys: Slip these finger pop tubes on your fingers, then stretch and compress the tube for fun, satisfying and sensory stimulation. This finger fidget ring can help relieve stress and can help manage anxiety, frustration, agitation, boredom, and excitement.
Fun finger strengthener: These fidget pop tubes' popping noise and push-n-pull friction keep you hooked, perfect for strengthening finger muscles. Use this finger slimmer while sitting at a red light, on an exhausting video call, trying to quit a bad habit, or to fill awkward silences.

Therapy Shoppe Junior Earmuffs
Durable Junior Earmuffs designed especially to fit children! Feature an adjustable, padded headband and comfy, liquid-foam ear cushions. These quality sensory earphones reduce environmental noise up to 22 decibels; allowing the wearer to still hear conversations and commands. The perfect sensory diet tool for kids who have auditory defensiveness, autism, sensory processing disorder, central auditory processing disorder, high levels of stress, anxiety diisorders, and/or noise sensitivity (kiddos who are hypersensitive to sound). Excellent for classrooms, travel, school lunchroom, parties and family gatherings, concerts, and more. Use with adult supervision. In black.

PRE BOX Sports Sensory Box- 1 Month Subscription
This is a 1-month subscription to receive only the Sports Themed Sensory Box. This sensory box includes play floam, balls, headphones, turf, concession stand food, pitch counter, penalty flag, and more. You will receive our Sports PRE Story, visual supports, and a ways to play parent handout. This box has everything you need to make sporting events more enjoyable for everyone! 
Our sensory boxes are designed to help everyone!

Snug Kids Earmuffs/Hearing Protectors – Adjustable Headband Ear Defenders for Children and Adults
Little ears need protection from the high frequency and loud noises that come with crowds, sporting events, fireworks, monster trucks, or even everyday household items like a lawn mower, edger, or vacuum cleaner. Snug ear muffs muffle any intense sound around.
Unlike some ear muffs that don't rotate or adjust, Snug ear muffs hug little ears with a soft padded headband and a skin-friendly breathable plush ear pad. These ear defenders give all-day comfort without feeling squeezed. Fits on a wide range of ages, may fit on some adults.

Flare Audio® Calmer® Kids (Blue)- A Small in Ear Device to Reduce Stress, for Sensitive Hearing, Autism, Asperger Syndrome, hyperacusis, Misophonia, Noise Related Stress and Other Hearing Conditions
A small and discreet device worn in the ear to reduce stress for children. Calmer Kids comes in three fun colours and features a unique technology that reduces stressful frequencies without muffling sound. Calming their environment in a subtle, but potentially life-changing way. Calmer Kids is made from a safe, non-toxic, soft and durable silicone which comes in three colours. Its discreet design means children can wear Calmer Kids without feeling self-conscious about having them in their ears. Most people won’t even notice they have them in! Calmer Kids accurately guides sound into our ears resulting in less distortion for a cleaner, more defined and pleasant audio experience.

BunMo Pop Tubes Sensory Toys - 12pk - Fine Motor Skills Toddler Toys - Fidget Toys for Sensory Kids and Learning Toys
Poppin’ Pipes are fun and functional sensory toys that pop, stretch, and connect making these pop tubes the go-to toy for playtime.
These stretch toys are made for all busy little fingers but are also exciting toys for special needs children. Special needs toys like these sensory tubes provide tactile stimulation, fine motor skills and auditory feedback.
Tired of finding a tube toy hiding under the couch? The BunMo Poppin’ Pipes sensory toy kit comes with a bright fun storage box to make clean up time a breeze!

Shake & Rattle Rainmaker Hape Toys is one of the world's largest producers of toys made from sustainable materials. Hape is guided by the philosophy that the future belongs to our children and creates toys that inspire play, learning and exploration of the world we live in. All of the products meet the strictest international standards for quality and safety. Hape Toys represents the next generation of play.Gross Motor Skills
Hand-Eye Coordination
Visual Sensory Development
Auditory Sensory Development

A soothing rain stick-like sound

New Montessori Sensorial Auditory Material - Sound Cylinders Sound Boxes Kids Educational Toys for Toddler
The cylinders are graded from very soft to loud and each cylinder has either a red or a blue top and is contained in a wooden box with a matching red or blue lid.
One blue box and one red box
Each box contains a set of six cylinders that make a distinctive sound when shaken
Purpose is to refine auditory sense

Olfactory Sensory Tools  (what you smell) 

Sensory Diet Olfactory Activities
- play with scented play dough 
- scratch and sniff scented stickers
- wear essential oil diffuser necklace
- make sensory scented bottles
- chew scented bubble gum
- play with scented fidget toys
- guess the scent game
- play with scented rice sensory bin
- write with scented pens
- blow scented bubbles
- bake and cook
- use scented sensory paints
- use scented markers

Massaging with scented lotions, using scented sensory jars, scented lip balm, scented bubbles, using calming essential oils or playing with scented play dough are all really good olfactory sensory tools when you're out running errands or attending appointments with your child. 

Crazy Aaron's SCENTsory Scented Thinking Putty, Wildtiki, 2.75" Tin - Tropical Watermelon Scented Green Putty - Fluffy Texture, Never Dries Out
Take a walk on the wild side with the bright colors and lush, tropical scent of Crazy Aaron’s new SCENTsory Wildtiki Putty!
Wildtiki green scented putty smells like juicy tropical watermelon!
Stretchable, sculptable, soft and fluffy SCENTsory Putty never dries out!
Made in the USA! Crazy Aaron's Thinking Putty is manufactured with the help of exceptional individuals challenged with disabilities.

Clary Sage + Cypress Essential Oil FOCUS Rollerball Blend Apply FOCUS Rollerball Blend - part of the Star Essence Line of products - to your pulse points before heading out the door in the morning. Stay alert and sharp during that big meeting or to help you power through and get your projects completed. Safe and developed for children. FOCUS Rollerball blend will provide a sense of relaxation combined with the ability to maintain concentration. Use before a test or a big assignment to help your student stay balanced.  

Crayola Silly Putty Silly Scents 6Count Egg Pack, Scented Putty, Gift for Kids
This silly Putty egg set is great for group gifting, with 6 individual eggs with scented putty inside.
The possibilities are endless with silly Putty toys. Stretch it, snap it, sculpt it, and more.
Collect all 6 scented putty toys in one set featuring chocolate, banana, Blueberry, watermelon, Apple, and grape.
Ideal for adults and kids, ages 4 & up.

Star Essence Relax Bubbles PLAYFUL + RELAXING
Bubbles with benefits! Your child can enjoy the sensory activity of blowing and chasing bubbles while delighting in the aromatherapy advantages of the Relax essential oil blend.
The curated combination of oils promote relaxation and have a calming effect.
Safe for children 2 years and older.
Available in a 4 oz plastic container with a bubble wand.

The FOCUS Sensory Star is a plush and fun equivalent to a stress ball or a fidget. This sensory tool is a wonderful method of self-regulation to help with:
Focus, Attention, Creating Calmness and Active listening. Focus Sensory Stars are intended to promote movement and tactile input that is critical for some student’s learning. We do not recommend to choose this sensory tool for a child who is showing signs of significant distress. Instead use the sensory stars proactively to promote well-being and comfort.

Play-Doh Scents 3 Pack of Snack Scented Modeling Compound for Kids 3 Years & Up, 4 Oz Cans, Non-Toxic
Get a whiff of this - with 3 fun scented Play-Doh smells in each pack and 4 ounces in each can, kids 3 years and up can make colorful Play-Doh creations that are fun to look at and smell good, too!
Silly snack-tastic smells - get ready for an amazing sensory experience with squishy Play-Doh compound that smells like popcorn, cookies, and cupcakes. Each scent has double colors in each can!
The Play-Doh fun families love - this Play-Doh scents 3-pack comes from the makers of Play-Doh Modeling compound, a trusted arts and crafts brand For over 60 years.

Edens Garden Focus, Focus, Focus "OK for Kids" Essential Oil Synergy Blend, 100% Pure Therapeutic Grade (Undiluted Natural/ Homeopathic Aromatherapy Scented Essential Oil Blends) 10 ml Roll-On
Focus, Focus, Focus acts as a pencil sharpener for the brain. Its uplifting, citrus-tinged aroma steers your mind back on track.
Focus, Focus, Focus is specially formulated to boost concentration and spur progress. Lasso your wandering mind with this blend of Grapefruit, Lavender, Pink Pepper, Lime, Cedarwood, Sweet Orange, East Indian Sandalwood, Spearmint, Geranium, Osmanthus and Vanilla CO2. Part of our OK For Kids line, this roll-on makes a great homework companion for your child. Simply apply it to their wrists to encourage better study habits.

Gustation Sensory Tools (what you taste/chew)  

Gustatory Sensory Diet Activities
- vibrating toothbrush
- blowing bubbles
- whistling
- drinking through a straw
- blowing through musical instruments
- eating crunchy snacks
- blowing up balloons
- exploring food temperatures, tastes and textures
- chewing gum
- exploring edible sensory bins
- chewing sensory chew necklace 
- chewing sour candy
- blowing a pinwheel

Bringing along a crunchy snack for your child, chewelry, sugar free gum or some sour candy are always great choices for gustation sensory tools when a busy sensory parent is on the go and their child needs to fill their sensory diet. Here are some more gustation sensory ideas. 

This adorable Munchables Cat Chewelry is so cute I want to wear it all the time! My daughter is a huge cat lover so this one was designed at her request! Do you or your child love cats as much as her?
This chew necklace features a textured background in the shape of a cat's face for added sensory interest.
Munchables come with a 90 day money-back chew guarantee. 
Munchables sensory chew necklaces, bracelets, zipper pulls, and pencils toppers offer a stylish solution for chewed shirts, pencils and fingers. We’ve poured our hearts into creating the highest-quality, most stylish chewable jewelry available. 

Pencil Toppers - 3 Pack (Chewy) Chew and Fidget While You Work
In search of a pencil topper that served as more than just an added weight, Fun and Function founder Aviva Weiss decided to design her own, and these Chewy Pencil Toppers were born. These Chewy Pencil Toppers provide multiple therapeutic benefits by serving as a chewy, a finger fidget and a source of proprioceptive input. Simply put, this pencil topper provides multiple types of sensory input so that you can calm down and relax no matter what type of stimulation you need. Fits No. 2 pencil. For light chewers. Non-returnable.
Provides a chewing and fidgeting outlet during writing activities
Texture supports oral motor and tactile exploration

Fubbles Bubbles No-Spill Bubble Tumbler | Bubble Toy for Babies Toddlers and Kids | Includes 6oz Bubble Solution and Bubble Wand (Tumbler Colors May Vary)
These Fubbles no-spill bubbles for kids will provide hours of fun and safe play
The No-Spill design allows for all the bubble fun without any of the mess. It works like magic and really is No Spill! Finally a bubble toy you can play with both outside and inside activties.
3 no-spill bubble tumbler minis in assorted colors. Each tumbler is individual shrink wrapped and includes 2oz of non toxic bubble solution per tumbler and they are easy to refill.

Proprioception Sensory Tools (body awareness)

Sensory Diet Proprioceptive Activities
- rough and tumble play or play wrestling
- tug of war with rope or fabric
- crawling through tunnels and boxes
- pulling or pushing a cart or wagon
- catching and throwing a weighted ball
- wheelbarrow walking
- scooter board activities
- squishing between pillows
- squeezing stress balls
- joint compressions 
- exercise (push ups, yoga, sit ups)
- rolling out play dough 
- hanging from trapeze
- pulling apart resistant toys or objects
- gross motor activities
(obstacle courses or stretching)

Throwing a heavy ball back and forth with your child, wearing a weighted vest, sitting on a textured wobble cushion, taking out some play dough, or creating a obstacle course for your child to complete while you are out are great choices for proprioceptive activities while you are away from home for your child's sensory diet. Here are some more proprioception sensory ideas for your child's sensory kit. 

Kozie Clothes Colorful Plain and Simple Kozie Compression Short Sleeve Shirt 
Kid’s Therapeutic Compression Inner or Outer Garment for Deep Calming Pressure
Our stylish and fun unisex compression top is made of comfy 4-way stretch fabric which allows the child to work or play creatively and actively. Our sensory compression top can be worn as an outer or inner garment while providing deep pressure calming and organizing sensory input. Relevant styling is the key to our non-stigmatizing apparel.  These popular shirts are designed to hug the shoulders, body trunk, and hips.  Evidence suggests that weight and pressure inputs provide both tactile and proprioceptive input to the body, calming the central nervous system as well as providing postural support and input to weak, floppy, or low tone (hypotonia) musculature.  

Keep Your Cool With Fun and Function’s Calming Compression Vest. ​
Let your child breathe easy with this comfortable, Fun and Function Mesh Pressure Vest. Giving the same great “hug” as our Weighted Compression Vest but without the added weight, this deep pressure vest helps to filter information and process an overload of sensory information. Simply adjust the hook and loop closures to apply firm pressure across the shoulders and trunk, and your child can experience calming benefits for a sensory diet. Ideal for children with autism or sensory integration challenges, this vest can be worn in school, at home, in the clinic or on the road. 

Trideer Inflated Stability Wobble Cushion with Pump(Multiple Colors)
Used as a WIGGLE SEAT to provide SENSORY INPUT, effectively help CHILDREN STAY FOCUS and SIT STILL, especially suitable for kids with ADHD or ASD as it helps to absorb their energy and therefore allows them to sit still for longer and stay concentrated better

PERFECT FOR ELEMENTARY SCHOOL & HOME & OFFICE: 34cm Wobble Cushion Diameter -34cm/13.4inch , Height-7cm/2.8inch, The maximum weight limit is 450 lb.

Puffer Ball - 8 inch, Two Tone
Giant puffer ball has soft rubber spikes and a super-squeezable texture. When you squeeze these puffer balls, an air bubble emerges Fidgets are a self-regulation tool used with children who have a difficult time sitting still or focusing. Fidgets help promote focus and concentration, and keep the body (fingers) busy so they can still sit and focus! Fidget toys are also great for strengthening hand muscles and building fine motor and finger dexterity.

Vestibular Sensory Tools (where you are in space) 

Sensory Diet Vestibular Activities
- swinging in a hammock 
- jumping on crash pad or trampoline
- bouncing on a yoga ball or teeter totter
- rolling up in a blanket
- spinning in a chair or sit n spin toy
- rocking on a rocking horse
- hanging upside down off couch, from monkey bars or from trapeze bars
- playing on toys with wheels
(roller blades, wagons, trikes or scooters)
- playground on playground equipment (slides, teeter totter, merry-go-round)
- playing gross motor games
(soccer, basketball, tag or hopscotch

If you are out and have time, stop by the playground to swing on the swing, hang from the monkey bars or ride on a bike or scooter. These are great vestibular activities. A game of tag can fill your child's sensory diet and vestibular sensory needs when you are on the go. Here are a few more ideas. 

3 Shapes Hedgehog Balance Pods and Balance Disc, Rocky and Geometric Stability, Core Strength, Coordination, Massage for Adults, Obstacle Course for Kids 
Improve dynamic balance, body awareness & coordination. Designed to massage sore feet, reflexology, fallen arches, plantar fasciitis, bunions & hammertoes
Ideal dimension fits almost all feet sizes, suitable for men, women to practice on. Great to use with socks or with shoes on
Pebble textured surface to massage & help increase blood flow while smooth flat bottom provides stability. Hand pump included for instant inflation

hand2mind Green Indoor Scooter Board with Handles, Gym Scooters for Kids, Recess Toys, PE Equipment for Elementary School, Kids Indoor Play Equipment, Floor Scooter, Kids Sports Activities
Work on coordination and building motor skills, all while having fun with this scooter board for kids.
Plastic handles keep hands away from rolling wheels, while the hard plastic design is durable and bright.
The plastic wheels won’t damage floors, making this a great floor scooter to add to your indoor gym for kids.
Perfect for gym class, blacktops, basements, or any hard floor surface.
Ideal for use in kids sports activities for ages 6-12, or between second and eighth grade.

Kids Rocking Seesaw Balance Board with 5 Wooden Balls Sensory Training Rocking Board Balance Training Equipment Children Indoor Outdoor Activity Toy
This seesaw balance board can be used as a sensory training equipment for kids. Balance training can not only enhance children’s concentration, but also exercise kids’ limb coordination. Let your kids win at the starting line!
Children won’t get injured, safe for children.
The seesaw board has concave-convex non-slip footprint design on its surface, increasing friction between children’s feet and board. Children won’t slip when standing on the balance board.

Calming Sensory Books For Children 

Anxious Ninja: A Children's Book About Managing Anxiety and Difficult Emotions
Anxious Ninja experiences difficult emotions that paralyzes him until his friend gives him tips on how to handle his anxiety.
Find out what happens in this comedic book about anxiety. 
Life is hard! And it's even harder for children who are just trying to figure things out.
The new children's book series, Ninja Life Hacks, was developed to help children learn valuable life skills. Fun, pint-size characters in comedic books easy enough for young readers, yet witty enough for adults.
The Ninja Life Hacks book series is geared to kids 3-11. Perfect for boys, girls, early readers, primary school students, or toddlers. Excellent resource for counselors, parents, and teachers alike. 

My Magic Breath: Finding Calm Through Mindful Breathing
Do YOU have the magic breath?
Let’s see…Take a deeeeeep breath in…and BLOW it out…
…and like magic, you can feel better just by breathing! Sometimes it’s hard to feel happy. But with this interactive picture book, children breathe along as they learn how to make angry or sad thoughts disappear.
In a world that is sometimes too busy, with too many things going on, My Magic Breath will help steer children into a serene space of mindfulness, self-awareness, and balance.

My Deep Breath  Has your child had one too many meltdowns this week? What if you could teach them a technique that would help them manage their big feelings and develop a positive and healthy mindset?
Learning to regulate emotions is important to a child's mental health.  My Deep Breath teaches the power of deep breathing to manage emotions - negative and positive. 
Children experience many emotions during their day, which can be scary.  This simple tool, which is learned through repetition, will enable your children to develop self-control and understand what to do when they feel overwhelmed. 
The simple language and use of vibrant illustrations will engage toddlers and children age 1-5 and help them learn essential coping skills in a fun way.
Watch your children practice this skill as they read along with you. 

Feelings Ninja: A Social, Emotional Children's Book About Emotions and Feelings - Sad, Anger, Anxiety (Ninja Life Hacks)
Feelings can change like a roller coaster. An important step in helping children cope with their emotions is to help them recognize and identify them—all of them. Emotions and feelings aren’t right or wrong. They just exist. From positivity to frustration and anger, they are all part of the many emotions we experience. When you help your child understand his or her feelings, they are better equipped to manage them effectively.
In this story, Feelings Ninja experiences a lot of feelings and learns how to recognize and identify emotions:

Find Your Calm: A Mindful Approach To Relieve Anxiety And Grow Your Bravery
“Anxiety can feel big and powerful. It can show up suddenly, without warning.”
For many kids, it can be overwhelming.
Anxiety is not just a cognitive experience. When children feel anxious, their bodies respond physically to a perceived threat. They need to feel a sense of safety before being able to figure out what to do next.
Your child can follow along and learn as the young narrator practices strategies that keep the anxiety from taking over.
Find Your Calm is a wonderfully accessible book that teaches children how to tap into their sense of safety when anxiety sends a false alarm, so they can find their calm. It includes simple grounding activities and coping tools for them to practice.

Calm Ninja: A Children’s Book About Calming Your Anxiety Featuring the Calm Ninja Yoga Flow
Calm Ninja experiences frustration and anxiety until Calm Ninja learns how to find inner peace through breathing and practicing the Ninja Yoga Flow. Calm Ninja shares how to calm worries and stay peaceful under extreme circumstances.
Find out what happens in this comedic book about stress relief. 
Life is hard! And it's even harder for children who are just trying to figure things out.

Calm and Peaceful Mindful Me: A Mindfulness How-To Guide for Toddlers and Kids
The mind
fulness how-to book you need to help your child have a calm and peaceful body and mind. In this fun and delightfully charming book, your child will follow a gender-neutral character through an easy-to-understand, step-by-step mindfulness practice. Written and illustrated by a therapist (and mother), Andrea Dorn, MSW, this simple yet very intentionally written book introduces the concept of mindfulness with a first-person, mantra-like narrative that will help your child build greater awareness of their body and emotions.

Zen Ninja: A Children's Book About Mindful Star Breathing (Ninja Life Hacks 37)
What do you do when it seems the world is crashing down on you? Follow Zen Ninja’s five-star breathing, and you’ll find your zen in no time.
Find out what happens in this comedic book about developing your zen. 
Life is hard! And it's even harder for children who are just trying to figure things out.
The new children's book series, Ninja Life Hacks, was developed to help children learn valuable life skills. Fun, pint-size characters in comedic books easy enough for young listeners, yet witty enough for adults.
The Ninja Life Hacks book series is geared to kids 3-11. 

DISCLAIMER: I am not an Occupational Therapist. I am an adult who has Sensory Processing Disorder, a sensory parent and a Grandma. The information on this website is not medical advice and does not replace the information that your child's therapists give you. These are just ideas and information that I have learned myself over the years of being a parent and an adult living with SPD. If you are concerned for your child, please always seek medical attention through a family doctor, pediatrician or therapist. This website is for informational purposes only. Each child is different and what works for one child may not for another. Please always consult with a professional.

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