She’ll only eat her pasta plain.

He’ll wear his sweater IF you rip out the labels.

She’s constantly pulling off her socks.

Sound familiar?

Children with sensory differences can be highly sensitive when it comes to touch. They may crave exposure to certain textures, and avoid others. Finding the right product that provides a calming, soothing, and satisfying experience can be a game-changer. Here are 5 things to check out—which one fits your child’s needs best?

  1. Kids Water Beads: These colorful gel beads grow into balls, just add water for engaging tactile play. The water beads provide a soft and slick sensory experience that can be calming to children with autism or sensory processing disorder. They’re also perfect for classrooms, rainy days and any old playtime. The beads come in a variety of colors for more fun, more variety, and more teachable moments!
  2. Kinetic Sand: When I was a kid I always wanted to take the beach home with me. And now I can. Kinetic sand comes in fun colors and has the wet, moldable texture of beach sand. Most brands come with a play tray to keep the sand contained, and the sand does not dry out, so children can use it again and again. Choose a non-toxic variety, and always supervise your child during play.
  3. Pin Art: A plastic frame holds rows of fine sliding “pins” with rounded edges that are safe for play and provide a deep sensory experience. The kids will never want to put it down—and you may become addicted as well. Use your hands to shape the surface, and then watch the pins slide back into place so you can do it all over again. Just be warned, once you start—you’re hooked!
  4. Crayola Outdoor ColorFoam: If your child likes to play with shaving cream, this is definitely next-level. Spray the colorful foam on the driveway, sidewalk, or anywhere. It also sticks to walls, and easily washes off with water. Your child can draw and create with the foam, or just get sensory with a thick, creamy and colorful medium!
  5. DNA Stress Ball: There are so many squeeze toys, fidgets, and stress balls out there on the market, but this one has something unique about it. The heavy-duty clear stretchy membrane contains colorful beads that move as you squeeze. As the manufacturers will tell you, this product was also designed with stressed-out adults in mind…so the three-pack is perfect for a family.


Remember: always supervise your child closely while s/he is engaged in play, and always follow product safety instructions and warnings. Have fun, and get sensory!