This week we received a tactile sensory suitcase from the charity, Cerebra. I have had the pleasure in using many of Cerebra's fantastic services over the past couple of years to help both myself and my young autistic son.
'Cerebra is a unique charity set up to help improve the lives of children with brain related conditions through research, education and directly supporting the children and their carers.' Cerebra website
I have used their postal lending library service many times and have enjoyed reading many books on the subject of autism. The service is completely free; you just need to be a Cerebra member to be able to borrow the books. They are posted out to you and you then return them via Freepost.
As well as being able to borrow books you can also borrow many sensory toys and equipment. I decided a few months back to have a look on their website and to see what toys were on offer. I am always on the look out for new toys and gadgets. What instantly struck me on their sensory toy list page was their tactile sensory suitcase which comprises of amongst many things, furry pillows, wooden mssager, circular textured shapes for the feet, sparkly light up balls and a vibrating foot massager.
I have the items on loan for up to 4 weeks.
The reason I chose the tactile sensory suitcase is that we have found Tom craves touch and deep massage. He had an Occupational Therapy and Sensory Integration assessment (OT - SI) done at school and they found him to have Sensory Modulation Disorder and that he was sensory seeking. Tom loves tight squeezes, rough and tumble play, being swung upside down and he will sit very close to you and squeeze himself into tight spaces. He also loves the feeling of different textures on his skin.
I am always on the lookout for new sensory toys for him and I thought that this would be a good way of 'testing' what he best responds to.
It has to be said that the tactile sensory suitcase is a huge success. Watching how Tom interacts with it has given me lots of ideas. It is a great way to try before you buy. Sensory toys can be expensive and so you don't want to waste money.
There are a few items that he particularly likes. The first are the stepping stones. He lines them up and then carefully walks over them stating what colours and patterns are on them. I asked him what they felt like and he told me 'hurt', I then asked him how thy made him feel and he said 'happy'.
The other item he really likes is the back massager. The other day he was strewn across my husband while he massaged his back, you could see Tom physically relax. Andrew had to exert quite firm pressure but you could sense that this is what Tom craved.
We have a few more weeks with the suitcase and I will try the other items and see how Tom responds to them.
If you have a child on the autistic spectrum I urge you to take a look at their website and see what services are on offer.
The Cerebra website can be found here.