When A-Man and Baby M were diagnosed with sensory processing disorder or SPD, we were horrified to see the prices for some of the therapy supplies that we knew could benefit them. We would just love a SPIO compression vest for Baby M, but they’re so expensive!
The boys needed a compression vest and weighted vest, weighted blankets and chew toys, and even crash pads and soundproof headphones and who knows what else they may need in the future!
So what’s a mom to do? When you know there are products out there that will benefit your sensory kiddos, but you really don’t have the budget to spend $100-$200 every time there’s something new they need. (Especially because sensory processing disorder is not seen as a “disability” in many states, so you won’t get much help from any programs unless you also get an autism diagnosis, but I digress.)
Many companies will raise their prices like crazy simply because they know that parents of sensory kiddos will do everything they can to provide the right sensory therapy equipment for their child.
One of my favorite places that doesn’t raise prices because their products are designed for disabled children is Fun and Function.
But sometimes even the reasonable prices for sensory therapy equipment would stretch your budget just too much, and I get that. So today we’re talking about sensory therapy equipment hacks!
Sensory Therapy Equipment Hacks
Sensory Therapy Equipment: Weighted Vests
First, you can buy a vest at the goodwill, and some velcro. Put some rice in sandwich baggies, put the bags in the pockets, and velcro them shut. It can really be as simple as that, I promise!
Another option if your child would undo the velcro and spill rice everywhere (or is that just my little ones??) is to purchase these really cool beads that are weighted and washable and sew the pockets shut.
If you have a hood-hating kiddo like A-Man, you can also put them in the hood and velcro it shut, so that your kid can’t reach it to pull them out.
Another option is to use a backpack. Fill it with whatever you want that’s heavy enough for your little one. Books, toys, cans, anything that will give it a bit of weight. It will put that weight across their shoulders just like a weighted vest will, and it’s much less expensive!
One of my favorite ways to hack this is to use a weighted blanket. Weighted blankets can be a game changer for sensory kiddos, but they can be really really expensive. Thankfully, my friend Stephanie put together this tutorial for a DIY weighted tie blanket that’s so simple, even this un-crafty mama could do it!
Sensory Therapy Equipment: Compression
Baby M desperately needed compression when we started therapy, but Fun and Function doesn’t have any compression vests small enough for him. We were pretty desperate for this sensory therapy equipment, but a SPIO vest was completely out of our budget. Thankfully, we have therapists that completely understand that, and they had quite a few sensory therapy equipment hacks to suggest!
The first one they told me? Just an ace bandage. It’s one of those sensory hacks that makes you think, why didn’t I think of that?! Wrap it around them tightly around their belly/torso. You can also wrap around their arms and legs depending on how much compression they need.
The next compression sensory hack is tights. Yes, even if you have a boy. This sensory therapy equipment hack has been a game changer for Baby M! He refused to wear socks for a long time, and the tights helped him to tolerate something on his feet while providing the compression that he needed.
Then finally, we have swim shirts. When kids are little, most of their swimming suits come with very tight shirts. They’re just compression shirts in disguise! Buy a few of them at the end of the season for the cheapest price and use them all year long!
Sensory Therapy Equipment: Crash Pads
A-Man does a lot of crash and bashing. Here are some ways we’ve survived it without an actual crash pad.
Accept that your couches/beds are potential crash pads. When I know that we’re about to be doing something stressful for A-Man, I’ll spend about 15 minutes throwing him at the couch to crash. (I know you SPD mamas know what I’m talking about, but other moms may be panicking. Trust me, he’s fine.)
Another way to make a cheap crash pad (and save your couches some grief) is to use dog beds. This is one that our therapist recommended recently because A-Man is getting bigger and it’s getting really difficult to keep helping him crash onto the couch. Buy a few of the huge dog beds like these (or find a few at goodwill and give them a GOOD cleaning!). If you want to get fancy you can sew a huge case and throw two or three dog beds in it. Instant sensory therapy equipment hack!
Sensory Therapy Equipment: Sensory Bin Fillers
Okay, I’ve posted about this a bit before, but sensory bins do not have to be elaborate and Pinterest worthy. Those are fun, but sometimes we just need down to business sensory therapy hacks.
Our first sensory bin had rice and measuring cups, Christmas erasers, and Christmas slinkys from the dollar store. A-Man loved it.
We also made this super simple letter recognition sensory bin with stuff we already had around the house that only took five minutes to put together.
That said, Pinterest can be a huge resource, especially when you don’t want to spend a ton on all the different sensory bin starters, so here’s some recipes.
For more sensory bin recipes and ideas, be sure to follow my Sensory Bins and Activities Pinterest Board!
So these are just a few examples of sensory therapy equipment that our therapists have recommended for A-Man and Baby M, and the hacks we’ve used to keep our costs down.
I just want to take time to say that you are not a bad mom for looking for lower cost therapy items. All of the equipment needed for sensory kiddos can get really expensive, so I think we should find every hack in the book! Do you have any hacks to recommend?
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My Hack: Candy for oral motor stimulation
Oh I love that! We are trying to find a “chewy” food for A-Man to use. So far licorice and jerky has been a bust.
What about taffy?
Ooooh.. I’ll try that next! Thanks for the tip!
Great idea about the dog beds for crash pads! We use the sofa as well! -visiting from the love that max link up
Sensory Mom recently posted…When Your Game Face Isn’t Enough : Parenting the Tough Days!
So happy to have you here, I thought the dog beds were crazy genius! Isn’t the Love That Max Linky the best?
Ace bandage — brilliant! I have wondered if a compression shirt would help, but didn’t want to spend money on it and then find out it was a bust. We may need to try that.
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The compression makes a huge difference for my sensory kiddos! I hope it helps!
Your experience highlights a difficult situation for many parents. Since budgeting for sensory development equipment has led to this research and locating reasonable options, your story will also, likely, help your readers.
I am a grandma of a 5 yr old non verbal autistic grandson. We live in a small town & there is no help here with him. My daughter does it all herself with research on the net.
She is having a hard time with getting him potty trained as he refuses to sit on the toilet. He is in pull-ups. She hasn’t tried many different things with no luck.
He also refuses to eat all foods expect bacon, fries, chicken fingers & he always tries to sneak my pop.
One of the schools here just started a short class for autistic children.
He seems to be liking it so far but it just 1 1/2 hours a day to start.
Some days he gets there & doesn’t want to go in. We think maybe it’s because he doesn’t like the teachers redirecting him when he does wrong.