Meeting sensory needs without violating boundaries






Sometimes people feel a strong need for a certain kind of sensory input, and then use other people’s bodies to meet that need even over their objections.

It’s not ok to do that. Not for sex, not for comfort, not for any other reason. People’s bodies are their own.

But sensory-seeking isn’t the problem. Failing to respect boundaries is the problem. There are other ways to get sensory input that don’t hurt anyone.

Here are some things that can help.

Squishables. These are giant big round stuffed animals. Hugging them feels like hugging, and hugging them and rocking can be very satisfying.

Fidget toys, like the ones available at Office Playground, can be helpful for some people.  Having something satisfying to do with your hands can make things feel a lot better.

Dollar stores and cheap stores and the cheap kid toys rack that a lot of stores have can be a good source for cheap fidget toys, too. (Silly putty works well for some people, for instance).

Wooden baby toys like this one and this one can be good. So can marbles. (Because they are hard and smooth and round and cold and can be rolled).

Listening to music on headphones can make being in spaces bearable. (Sometimes spaces are bearable either by holding onto people, holding objects, or listening to music with headphones. It’s good to have options that don’t require hanging onto others).

Stimming without objects can help too — flapping and rocking, in addition to being expressive body language, can be really useful as ways to regulate oneself and meet sensory needs.

Sensory Squids is a good blog about this for adults. (Because, you know? Most of us don’t outgrow this).

Reblogging this under the dyspraxia tags, because oh my God are fidget toys useful for fixing “brain won’t work because I can’t figure out what to do with my hands”itis.

this is a useful post. and I second the headphones thing - it’s often the only way I can eat in the school cafeteria without breaking down.

I love Squishables. I have two of the standard size, plus one of the massives. Sometimes I would go to high school with one of my squishables if I was having a bad day because that was the only way that I could get through the day. They are magnificent balls of texture that you can squish and squeeze and run your hands through. 

Oddly, carpet is also really soothing for me. Just sitting on the floor and running my hands over the carpet can be a good way to get nice sensory input. Doesn’t usually bother people though if you’re not supposed to be sitting on the floor, it can weird people out. Ah well, worse things can happen. 


Please, for the love of all things good in the world, NEVER tell your loved one that you don’t mind them involving you in their stimming/calming behaviors if you are not actually okay with it!!!  

I realize you may be trying to be nice and do something that helps them BUT IF IT MAKES YOU UNCOMFY AND THEY FIND OUT LATER THEY WILL FEEL TERRIBLE.  

Once, my friend let me touch his hair to check out his new haircut, and for some reason my mind freaked out and I could not stop touching it for like an hour.  And I asked him over and over again if it was okay and told him that if he needed me to stop I totally would and that I didn’t want to upset him.  And he just kept smiling and reassuring me, and saying it was perfectly all right.   Well I found out from a mutual friend several weeks later that he was extremely uncomfortable the whole time.  That was like, THREE YEARS ago and I still feel like the worst crap in the world about it.  

Just because we have sensory issues, it does not mean we are broken, or insensitive, or won’t understand your boundaries!  TELL US THEM. 

Yes. And, on the flip side, it’s important to ask questions in a way that reminds people that it is possible to say no and that you won’t pressure them. Doing that is a skill, and one that can be hard to acquire.