Sensory Toys

Like many other libraries, we are developing our response to the needs of neurodivergent children. As part of this initiative we have acquired a set of Sensory Toys which are kept in a box in the Children’s Area. A pack of disinfecting wipes is available near the box of toys for use before and after children have played with the toys.

We also have two sets of Ear Defenders available for children with a sensitivity to noise. These are kept at the library desk and are available on request.

Neurodiversity includes Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASC), a lifelong developmental condition which affects how people communicate and interact with the world, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), a condition that affects people's behaviour. Children with Autism and ADHD often have sensory issues, whether hyper-sensitivities or hypo-sensitivities. Both types of sensitivities affect how the child processes and reacts to different types of stimuli. Children who are hypersensitive are overly responsive to stimulants - often called “sensory overload.” Both regular and extreme stimuli, like bright lights or strong smells, can affect hyper-sensitive children, leaving them feeling overwhelmed. According to Bromley, Hare, Davison and Emerson (2004), 70% of children who have an Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are hyper-sensitive to auditory stimuli. As opposed to hyper-sensitivity, some children with autism are actually under-responsive to senses and stimulants. 

The American Psychiatric Association has found that these sensory issues can be mitigated by certain specialist toys and devices. A number of libraries now provide a box of sensory toys in their Children’s Areas, and we are now doing the same. The toys we have selected are designed to stimulate four of a child’s five senses: sight, sound, touch and smell (we’ll leave taste for their parents to address) and might include elements such as bright, contrasting colours, sounds, or different textures. We are also providing ear defenders for children to use if sensitivity to noise prevents their accessing the benefits of our library. Ear defenders act to reduce the amount of auditory information the brain needs to process and thus help to avoid the stress and anxiety that some autistic children can feel if their sensory system becomes overloaded.