Finding the best and most effective tools for your child can be a challenge.
It’s no secret that the cost of autism services are extremely expensive. Along with the hefty therapy price tags are the cost of tools and items that may be of help to our children.
Over the course of the three-and-a-half years since my son’s autism diagnosis, he has seen an endless amount of therapists. Speech therapists, behavioural therapists, occupational therapists and even a vision therapist. Each one of these professionals has recommended items that they say will help him self-regulate, help him with his sensory issues or teach him a new skill, which of course, I would have to purchase.
I have spent more money than I ever dreamed of on items that could potentially help my son, no guarantees. As one therapist plainly put it “it’s all trial and error.”
These items range from special chairs, stretch bands, chewables, and even therapeutic listening headphones. Do they think I’m made of money?! But I buy (most) these things because I want to help my son.
In no particular order, here are my reviews on some of the items I’ve purchased over the years. Some have been helpful, and some are collecting dust.
The Chewy Tube
When this was recommended to me, I thought it was a very strange looking object. I gave it to my son and Hallelujah! Praise the OT Gods, it appeared to work! No more sucking on his fingers or putting everything in sight into his mouth. It worked! Or so I thought.
About six months after use, he was done with it and back to his finger-sucking and putting small objects into his mouth ways. The chewy tube is currently sitting on my kitchen counter, completely abandoned by my son. I offer it to him on occasion only to hear “no, I don’t want it.”
If you think your child could benefit from a chewy tube, you can find them at www.chewytubes.com
The Weighted Blanket
My son is a very hyper-active child and he requires pressure, particularly when he’s excited. We tested out the weighted vest at his OT’s office but he did not take well to wearing it. However, when she draped the weighted blanket over his shoulders it seemed to have a calming affect on him. We tried this a few times over the span of a few sessions and each time, he calmed down. She recommended I get one for the house. When I searched online, I almost fainted after seeing the cost of a weighted blanket. They’re around $300 USD or more! That’s NUTS!! I was able to find and 8 lb blanket for $185. Still costly but not nearly as much as the others I had seen.
The blanket does calm my son, but he can only tolerate it for short periods of time and sometimes he will ask me to remove it after only four or five minutes of use. I haven’t given up on it, but it hasn’t been the miracle blanket I thought it would be. I purchased the blanket at www.kozieclothes.com
The HowdaHUG Chair
Since my son is a pressure-seeker, he loves to give and receive hugs, so his OT recommended the HowdaHUG chair. This was probably the first OT suggested item I ever purchased. It looks like a lawn chair with no legs. It has adjustable straps that you can loosen or tighten in order for its user to receive their desired pressure.
My son usually won’t sit on his regualr chair for the duration of dinner, he will get up and run around, come back to eat, run around again and so on. However, he will sit still in the HowdaHUG chair and stay in it until he finishes his meal. He also seems comforted and calm while sitting in it. This one is a winner. If you’re interested in the HowdaHUG chair, you can visit www.howda.com
The Move-n-Sit Cushion
The move-n-sit was recommended to me by my son’s ABA therapist. Since he has difficulty sitting still during circle time at school, she thought this item could help. Why I bought this without trying it out first, I’ll never know. But I trusted her recommendation so I didn’t think twice. This cushion is supposed to help with concentration and focus. It is a two sided cushion, one side is smooth and the other is has circular nubs to offer sensory input.
This is a hit-or-miss. He will sit on it some days and others he flat-out refuses. Overall I would say it has been an effective tool for my son. If you want more info on the move-n-sit, you can visit www.nationalautismresources.com
Light Up Spinner
In addition to being a pressure seeker, my son is also a visual sensory seeker. He loves to look at lights, and he loves to watch things spin, so this toy made perfect sense. It’s a great toy that spins and lights up and he has gotten a lot of pleasure from this one. However, it isn’t the most durable – not when you have a young boy who has a tendency to drop or throw things around the house. We’ve gone through a few of these, but it has been worth it.
Your local toy store probably carries these spinners, or you can find them here at www.glowcity.com
YogiBo Bean Bag
This bean bag is EPIC. It’s amazing. Not only does my son love it, I love it, my husband loves it, guests who come to our home love it. It’s super comfortable and cozy, perfect for relaxing and calming my son when he’s anxious. We bought the Yogibo Max because it was the largest one they had. It’s very comparable in price to other bean bags on the market.
My son would use it as a bed if he could. I truly believe this is a must-have for every autism household. If you’re looking for more information on the Yogibo, go to www.yogibo.com
This item is typically used for children who are working on developing their fine-motor muscles in their hands and fingers. It comes in a soft or firm resistance, so my son’s OT recommended the firm resistance putty that way he could pull it apart from end to end and it would offer him some pressure input in his arms.
This was a great suggestion by his OT, he really enjoys pulling apart his putty. I would definitely recommend this product. You can visit www.puttyworld.com
So there you have it, these are some of the items I’ve purchased over the years. Some are effective, some are not. What works for my son, may not work for your child, and vice versa.
Yes, many of these items are costly, but I don’t look at it as a waste of money, I look at purchasing these items as an investment in my son. If they can help him and give him the input he needs to self-regulate, it’s worth it.