Many therapists, early intervention specialists and families have seen the benefits of vibration for some children with sensory issues, autism and/or special needs.
We know that the proprioceptors in our muscles are particularly sensitive to vibration and that it can bring about changes in muscle tone and improve awareness of small joint position. One recent study found that vibration improved muscle movement by up to 60% (see link here). It has also been found that the benefits of vibration can continue past when the vibration ceases.
As an educator I am particularly interested in any benefits of using vibration tools, toys and resources for:
– calming and relaxing (if a student is becoming hyper aroused or their behaviour is escalating)
– focus and improving academic engaged time, and improving body awareness
In our store and in our consultancy and private tutoring centre, I get to work with lots of children. Some will not bother with anything that vibrates (and may even be quite opposed to vibration) and some will absolutely LOVE it. With SPD and ASD there is no one treatment or strategy that suits all. However, vibration options are a good option to trial and have available.
The Good Vibes Massager is an affordable, lightweight, strong and portable massager.
It has 3 light up nodes that provide relaxing and soothing vibration.
Press the button and away you go!
This gorgeous soft seal vibrates (for about 7 seconds) when you pull the string.
The seal can fit into the palm of the hand, a pocket, handbag or backpack. It is perfect for the sensory box too.
You can also use the vibrating seal to target specific areas, for example we’ve found that lots of children like the feel of it on their cheeks.
The Stress Head Massager is another relaxing way to help calm children. Press the button and this one provides vibration input as well!
The ZVibe Grabber is a vibratory oral tool for developing oral tone and improving a variety of speech, feeding and sensory skills. It comes with a long rippled tip that can reach to the back molars if needed. Other tips are also available (including brushes, spoons etc) and can easily be interchanged. The ZVibe grabber can be used without vibration or turned on for additional sensory input.
I particularly like the ZGrabber as the purple “grabber” can be used as part of the oral therapy and as a handle. It can also be combined with a safety lanyard and worn or attached (to avoid it begin dropped).
The Star Vibrating Oral Teether is another good option for those who seek oral input. The teether vibrates when the star is pressed or bitten. It is definitely worth trialling for children who bite themselves or others or who are extreme or avid chewers. The teether provides an oral alternative and the vibration can give extended benefits so children are able to go for longer periods of time without seeking oral input. The handle is easy grip, but can also be used with a safety lanyard and attached or worn. Please be aware that the Star teether comes with a battery that is non-replaceable.
The Squiggle Wiggle Writer is crazy fun to use and fabulous as a tool in the therapy room or at home.
Turn the vibration on and it will send proprioceptive feedback and increase awareness of the hand and pencil grip.
The squiggle wiggle is heavier than a typical pen and can also provided added weighted benefits.
Watch the squiggle wiggle writer in action here.
We rave about our Cuddle Bunny and Bear and often feature them because it is super hard to find great quality vibrating plush furry friends. Both the bear and the bunny are washable, are gorgeously soft to touch. Squeeze them gently and they vibrate (steadily and gently OR as a heart beat depending on how you set them). If you’d prefer, you can have them on a timer instead of touch activated.
Last but not least – the vibration cushions and pillows from Senseez.
We have a few options with the vibration cushions/pillows. The blue vinyl square is a practical choice given it is easy to wipe clean. The plush cow and turtle have tails which provided added tactile/fidget input (the covers are washable) and then the totally cool flannelette shirt is well suited for adolescents and adults (and would be perfectly appropriate sitting on a lounge or in the bedroom).
These vibration cushions are activated when gently squeezed, pushed, pressed or sat upon. Many children like to lie on the floor with the cushion under the tummy. Some sit on them on a chair and some squeeze them against their chest/stomach or have it behind their back as they sit on the lounge.
Watch a quick youtube clip about the Senseez cushions here.
I’d love to hear if you’ve found other great vibrating resources.