We’ve been talking about how we can adapt toys and household items for regulating play for children at home (check out our Resources!). Now we’re going to think about some equipment! We want to provide some hints and tips from working with families using a Sensory Integration or Sensory Attachment Intervention approach, for you to think about at home with your child.
This Warmie is part of the Juniper Tree Therapy Pack available via Sensory Direct, however there are also other providers or easy substitutes you can make! These Warmies weigh about 800g- we have a Monkey but there are other options available. It has guidelines for heating so it can be warmed through, and it has a Lavender scent – some children or adults don’t like scented products so its worth thinking about this before you purchase!
Here are 5 ways that you can use your Warmie to provide different sensory input for your child – ours is called Marvin the Monkey, so we’ll call him ‘he’ – scroll down for a picture!
Sensory Tip #1: Carry him in a Backpack
This really handy for when you’re out and about – especially for children that are feeling hyperactive or agitated. Pop your Warmie in the backpack (not heated!), and go for a walk or an explore. The best backpack for this is one which has wide shoulder straps, and ideally a chest strap so it fits snug to your child’s body (loose bags can be agitating).
Carrying this in a backpack can help your child to use their muscles (this is called Proprioceptive sensory input) and can provide us with some deep pressure feedback from the backpack straps ( Tactile sensory input), which is calming and organising. Best of all, you can combine it with nature and getting out and about! Perfect!
Sensory Tip #2: Get him to do an Obstacle Course!
Moving, lifting or carrying the Warmie adds an extra element to obstacle courses or other play activities, because of the Proprioceptive feedback it provides. Children can channel their imagination into play because the Warmie can be a ‘character’, and the ‘additional’ benefit is the sensory regulation; you could even do this heated!
(Please be aware that this is not designed as a throwing and catching toy, so if your child is particularly vigorous you might need to look for a more robust substitute!)
Sensory Tip #3: Throwing and Catching
For children who find gross motor skills difficult, practicing and learning skills with a ball can be challenging. Using weighted teddies helps for lots of reasons; catching bigger and softer things can be slightly easier than balls, and the additional weight helps to give your body information when you catch it about the direction its come from, the speed its travelled with. This can help with learning new catching skills! Throwing something that’s a little heavy also gives you more sensory feedback to your muscles (Proprioception) and therefore helps with learning new throwing skills.
Sensory Tip #4: Sit him on Your Knee
There are a number of reasons we might want to help our child to feel comfortable sitting down; perhaps to eat dinner, do a jigsaw, or perhaps to do some school work. Having the weight of a Warmie on your child’s lap can provide calming sensory input by providing some deep pressure, and help your child sit for longer. You might even want to warm him up!
Sensory Tip #5: Snuggle Up
If you like warm temperatures, Warmies can be very soothing. Your child can curl up whilst watching a movie with him, or you could pop him into a den or tent or somewhere that your child goes to relax by themselves, or with you!
Let us know how you get on using these ideas, or if you have any more of your own!
As with all of our resources, the contents of this post should never be substituted for Occupational Therapy assessment or advice. Any equipment recommendations should be risk assessed by a responsible adult, and equipment should not be used unsupervised. Please follow manufacturers guidelines or Professional advice for cleaning, heating, and safe weight limits.