Explore Ways To Create A Sensory Friendly Tool For Comfort

Carry a familiar item that is sensory-friendly & comforting It is impossible to avoid all sensory triggering stimuli around you. If you feel you may be “overly” sensitive to emotional, physical, or external stimuli, this tip is for you! Being sensitive may look or feel like avoiding certain sensory inputs (i.e avoiding certain smells or noises) or being really moved by an emotional connection. (such as watching movies, music or art that makes you emotional) With COVID-19 allowing you to control your spaces, sensory inputs, and emotional connections, this transition can be difficult.. Now that the world is beginning to open back up, this can be an overwhelming time. Some ways you can tell you are experiencing a sensory overload are:

  1. Covering eyes or ears from sensory inputs

  2. Irritability

  3. Stress and Discomfort

  4. Anxiety

  5. Or Feeling overwhelmed in your environment.

Be prepared with some sensory-friendly tools that have helped you before. Ever tried sensory-friendly materials? Here is how it can be helpful when you are unable to escape an overstimulating sensory input. A sensory-friendly tool enhances your brain's development while promoting regulation. In other words, this tool is used to help you relax, focus, and feel safe when being overwhelmed with stimuli. Sensory-friendly tools are designed to stimulate more than one sense at a time. Sensory-friendly tools work because you can create the sensory input you require to calm down. Think about it this way, a sensory friendly tool is a preferred item, like your warm blanket when you are feeling afraid. Multiple senses are working at one time, but the warmth of your blanket calms you down and refocuses you to your current moment and body.

Due to COVID-19 and mandated mask-wearing, using your sensory-friendly tool may be harder to use than normal. i.e, smelling a calming scent when your nose and mouth should be covered. Here are some tips while out and masked up:

  1. If your sensory-friendly tool requires your sense of smell sense, you can try to spray some of your calming fragrance onto your mask. Be mindful of how strong the fragrances may be. Allow your mask to fully dry and air out before placing the mask on your face. You can also try to place a calming fragrance inside of your mask.

  2. If your sensory-friendly tool requires taste, you can try buying a mask that has a zipper over the mouth. This can give you quick access to your sensory-friendly tool such as gum, or chewing on an item.

  3. If your sensory-friendly tool requires audio/hearing, as mentioned earlier, you can try to carry noise-canceling headphones. If the headphones are unavailable, you can use your hands to cover your ears until you feel safe. Music therapy may also be an option. Try playing calming music when feeling overstimulated in spaces.

  4. If your sensory-friendly tool requires your vision: Invest in the right sunglasses that will help to calm your surroundings down.

  5. If your sensory-friendly tool requires touching, you can try carrying a fidget spinner, a small puzzle, or apply lotion with deep pressure.

Now that you have read about sensory friendly tools, you can allow yourself to have new expectations while outside with others. These tools are designed to keep you calm, less anxious, or stressed, so when using these tools throughout the day you can expect to be able to maintain regulation for a little while longer than you expected. Now you have the tools to stop avoiding outside, or contact with others and enjoy the world around you!

If you need help identifying a sensory friendly tool call a therapist at The Center for Growth 215 922 LOVE (5683). We have offices in Center City Philadelphia, Ocean City NJ, Mechanicsville VA and work with clients virtually in Florida and Georgia.