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Sensory Processing refers to the way in which we receive messages from our bodies and the world around us to use for building skills.  It doesn’t matter whether we are writing our names, riding a bicycle or playing with friends, it depends on the efficient use of sensation.

For some individuals, this process does not result in smooth processing, but rather inefficiencies with the detection or organization of sensation.

Pioneering occupational therapist, educational psychologist, and neuroscientist A. Jean Ayres, PhD, described Sensory Processing Disorder  (SPD) to a neurological “traffic jam” which prevents certain parts of the brain from receiving the information needed to interpret sensory information correctly. A person with SPD finds it difficult to process and act upon information received through the senses, which creates challenges in performing countless everyday tasks. Motor clumsiness, behavioral problems, anxiety, depression, school failure, and many other problems may impact those who do not have effective treatment.

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Infants and toddlers

____ Problems eating or sleeping

____ Refuses to go to anyone but their mom for comfort

____ Irritable when being dressed; uncomfortable in clothes

____ Rarely plays with toys

____ Resists cuddling, arches away when held

____ Cannot calm self

____ Floppy or stiff body, motor delays



____ Over-sensitive to touch, noises, smells, other people

____ Difficulty making friends

____ Difficulty dressing, eating, sleeping, and/or toilet training

____ Clumsy; poor motor skills; weak

____ In constant motion; in everyone else’s  “face and space”

____ Frequent or long temper tantrums



___ Over-sensitive to touch, noise, smells, other people

___ Easily distracted, fidgety, craves movement; aggressive

___ Easily overwhelmed

___ Difficulty with handwriting or motor activities

___ Difficulty making friends

___ Unaware of pain and/or other people


Adolescents and adults

___ Over-sensitive to touch, noise, smells, and other people

___ Poor self-esteem; afraid of failing at new tasks

___ Lethargic and slow

___ Always on the go; impulsive; distractible

___ Leaves tasks uncompleted

___ Clumsy, slow, poor motor skills or handwriting

___ Difficulty staying focused

___ Difficulty staying focused at work and in meetings

___ Unmotivated; never seems to get joy from life


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Compiled by Stacey Szklut MS, OTR/L & South Shore Therapies Staff Children learn through play and active exploration. Many toys and games can encourage learning and develop skills in planning and sequencing, eye-hand coordination, visual perception, concept development and fine motor control. These suggestions may be helpful in choosing appropriate toys for the holidays, birthdays and other special times. They include sensory based activities to provide organizing sensation and encourage the development of body awareness, as well as games to encourage the development of specific skills and language concepts. Approximate ages or skill levels have been given to help guide your choices. Many items can be purchased at toy stores or through the catalogues listed. Ask your occupational therapist for help in deciding which games or toys are the best choices for your child. Games to Develop Coordination, Problem Solving and Visual Perception: Younger Ages (3-6 years) Older Kids (7 and up) 3D Labyrinth Acuity (Fat Brain Toys) Angry Birds: Knock on Wood Aftershock! Animal Soup Game Amazing Labyrinth Game (Sensational Kids, Discovery Toys) Ants in the Pants Batik (Mindware) Bouncin’ Bunnies (Highlights) Battling Tops Buckaroo Battleship Cadoo & Balloon Lagoon Blink Charades for Kids Blokus (Mindware, Highlights) Colorforms Dress-up Game (Therapro) Bulls Eye Ball Cootie Connect Four Cranium Hullabaloo Cover Your Tracks (Thinkfun Games) Don’t Break the Ice/The Smurfs Hold On Clumsy Cranium Cadoo Don’t Spill the Beans Guess Who/ Guess Where Elefun Jenga/Scooby Doo Hold On Finders Keepers (Mindware) Kerplunk/ Tumble Fishin’ Around Launch Across Gobbler Mastermind Gnip Gnop (Highlights, Back to Basics, Young Explorers) Monster Under My Bed (Young Explorers) Hidden Picture Game (Highlights) Mousetrap Honey Bee Tree (Back to Basics, Highlights, Leaps & Bounds) Operation/ Dino Xcavator (Sensational Beginnings) Hungry Hungry Hippos Perfection I Spy Bingo (Young Explorers) Pipeline (Mindware) I Spy Memory Game (Young Explorers) Q-Bitz Lucky Ducks Quirkle Memory Game Raging Rapids (Think Fun) Monkeying Around (Young Explorers) River Crossing (Think Fun) Mr. Mouth Rebound Penguin Pile-up (Hearthsong) Rummikub Poppa’s Pizza Pile-up (Leaps & Bounds) Rush Hour (Think Fun, Mindware) Poppin Puzzlers Screwball Scramble (Young Explorers) Pop up Pirates Simon Trickster Race to the Roof (Young Explorers) Spot it! Scatterpiller Scramble Squeezed Out (Back to Basics) / Hens & Chicks (Hearthsong) Silly Faces(Therapro) Thin Ice Topsy Turtle Twister Very Hungry Caterpillar Game (Young Explorers) What’s in Ned’s Head? (Young Explorers) Whack a Mole Zig Zag Zimbbos (Young Explorers) Zitternix Game (Hearthsong) For Sensory Motor Development and Coordination: Provides Organizing Sensory Input More Skilled Coordination Needed Blo-pens Air Kicks Boots Body Sox (Integrations) Air Pogo (Young Explorers) Bop Bag (Back to Basics) Balance Board (Back to Basics) (Monkey Balance Board) Chilly Hammock Swing First Jumper (Back to Basics) Balance Stilts (Hearthsong) Bilbo Foof Chair Large Beanbag (Integrations) Folding Trampoline (Hearthsong) Giga Ball (Sears, Hearthsong) Horse Tire Swing (Highlights, Back to Basics) Bungee Jumper (Young Explorers) Color Explosion (Crayola) Dance Maker 2 Dance Machine (Sears, Young Explorers) Disc Swing (Young Explorers) Inside Out Balls (Therapro, Hearthsong) Jigglers (Therapro, Integrations) Jumpolene (Back to Basics) Kick Bag (Sears, Back to Basics) Marvel the Mustang Riding Horse (Back to Basics) Massager /Bug/ Fuzzy (South Shore Therapies) My First Trampoline (Back to Basics) Oral Motor Kit (South Shore Therapies) Chewies: P’s & Q’s, Super Teether Play Tents (Back to Basics, Hearthsong, Integrations) Rock & Bounce Pony (Back to Basics) Rocking Horse (Back to Basics, Young Explorers) Rocking Rody Rider (Therapro, Integrations) Row Cart (Back to Basics) Sand Digger (Constructive Playthings) Scooter Boards Sensory Regulation Kit (South Shore Therapies) Snail Rocker (Back to Basics) Sock en’ Boppers Set (Sears) Spring Horse (Back to Basics) Super Large Crash Pads (South Shore Therapies) Weighted Wearables,Blankets (Grampa’s Garden,Therapro) Whistles (I Party, Therapro) Flying Turtle (Back to Basics, Hearthsong, HIghlights) Fun Ride (Back to Basics, Highlights, Young Explorers) Hop 66/ Hop Ball (Hearthsong, Young Explorers) Jump Ropes Junior Champ Boxing Set (Constructive Playthings) Kick-a-Roos (Highlights) Krazy Car/ Whirley Wheel (Back to Basics, Integrations) Moon Shoes (Highlights, Sears, Young Explorers) Moon Walkers (Young Explorers) Pedal-Power/ Fun Wheels (Back to Basics, Hearthsong) Plasma Car (Young Explorers) Pogo Ball Pogo Stick (Highlights) Razor Scooters Romper Stompers Rope Ladder (Hearthsong) Sit & Spin (Back to Basics) Skip Around (Hearthsong) Slackers Slackline Sleds & Snow Tubes Wobbler (Highlights, Hearthsong) Activities that Develop Eye-Hand Coordination and Visual-Spatial Planning: Visual Control/ Eye-Hand Coordination: Constructional Building Activities: Air Puck Hockey Aerobloks (Highlights, Integrations) Alfredo’s Food Fight Block Buddies (Mindware) Balanko Game (Highlights) Build and Play Mechanic Set (Discount School Supply) Beamo Flying Disc Cast & Paint: Krazy Cars with Blo Pens Bean Bag Games Colorforms (Sensational Kids, Back to Basics) Bucket Blast Game (Hearthsong) Create a Track –Snap Track Set (Back to Basics) Dodge Discs Delta Sand (Hearthsong) Flip Flop Faces (Discovery Toys) Design & Drill Activity (Leaps & Bounds) Hammer Away (Discovery Toys) E-Z Build & Play (Constructive Playthings) Hopscotch Mat (Highlights) Gearations (Leap & Bounds) Hyper Dash Georello Tool Box Infinity Loop (Integrations) Giant Constructive Blocks (Constructive Playthings) Junior Swing Ball (Young Explorers) Junior Blast Pad Jolly Octopus K’nex Legos/ Duplos/ Quatro Bucket Light Snap Circuits Kids Croquet (Toys to Grow on) Mini Ogo Discs Monster Velcro Mitts (Toy Box) Nerf Basketball Hoop Paddle Pool (Highlights) Rack ‘n’ Roll Bowl (Highlights) Lincoln Logs (Back To Basics) Make ‘Break Challenge (Fat Brain Toys) Magz Construction Set (Back to Basics, Hearthsong) Magnatiles Magnetic Mosaics (Highlights, Toys to Grow On) Marbleworks (Discovery Toys) Activities that Develop Eye-Hand Coordination and Visual-Spatial Planning (continued) : Visual Control/ Eye-Hand Coordination: Remote Control Cars Safety Dart Board (Hearthsong) Constructional Building Activities: Maze-N-Race (Realfun) Oogly Googly Motorized Building Set (Young Explorers) Target Tail Ball (Hearthsong, Highlights) Trapp Ball Toss Across Whistling Whirler (Discovery Toys) Zoom Ball Peg-a-Plane (Lauri) Playmobil Super Shapes (Constructive Playthings) Zoob (Mindware) To Support Fine Motor Development and Writing: Pre-Writing Skills (Ages 3-5) Drawing & Writing Skills (Ages 6 and older) Art Kits (crayons, paints, etc.)/ Easels Activity Book (Hearthsong) Brush on Washable Painters (Toys to Grow On) Arts & Crafts Projects (Hearthsong, Toys to Grow On) Colorforms (Hearthsong, Back to Basics) Color-in Tattoos Creative Clay (Back to Basics, Hearthsong) Etch-a-Sketch Cranium Cariboo Crayola Beginnings Crayola Trace & Draw (Sears) Dressing Dolls/ Woodkins Dot Art Fine Motor Kit (South Shore Therapies) Magnetic Art (Leaps & Bounds) Pattern Block Set (Young Explorer) Playdoh/ Silly Putty/Theraputty (Therapro) Playful Patterns (Discovery Toys) Ready to Print Practice Books (Toys to Grow on) Roll on Painters (Toys to Grow on) Sand Art Scratch Magic (Young Explorer) Spinmallow Squiggle Writer Pen (Therapro) Stencil Kit (Hearthsong) Tickle Bee Game (Hearthsong, Back to Basics) Water Filled Drawing Mats Wiggle Writer (Toys to Grow on, Therapro) Zingo Zoo Sticks (Hearthsong) EZ Art Projector (Constructive Playthings) Kendama Legos Magna Doodle Mazes Peel & Stick Collage Boards (Constructive Playthings) Pictionary Junior/ Pictionary Pop Bead People (Klutz) Pumponator Puzzlemania (Highlights) Roller Typing (Discovery Toys) Shrinky Dinks Spirograph Suncatcher Kit (Highlights) Stain Glass Coloring Book (Mindware) Trace & Draw Projector (Toys to Grow on) Wikki Stix Acitivty Set Window Art (Young Explorers) Window Decorating Paints (Hearthsong) Zip-Track (Discovery Toys) 1, 2 Tie My Shoe Below is a list of the catalogue resources sited on this list. Other Resources for choosing toys and therapeutic activities to support intervention can be found in the Parent Resource Box at South Shore Therapies. Amazon Back to Basics (800) 356-5360 Constructive Playthings (800) 832-0572 Fat Brain Toys (800)-5905987 Hearth Song (800) 325-2502 Highlights (800) 422-6202 Integrations (800) 850-8602 Leaps and Bounds (800) 477-2189 Mindware (800) 999-0398 www.mindwareonline Magic Beans (Store in Hingham) (781) 749-2321 Rhyme ‘N Reason (Store in Pembroke) (781) 829-6800 Rock Paper Scissors (Store in Duxbury) (781) 452-7376 Sensational Beginnings (800) 444-2147 Therapro (800) 257-5376 The Toy Box (Store in Hanover) (781) 871-3650 Toys To Grow On (800) 987-4454 Young Explorers (800) 239-7577