How to Use Sensory Tools

Article by Anna Tullemans

Sensory tools can provide the particular sensory input that many children with autism crave. Whether it is visual or tactile, the tools have the power to capture our kids’ attention, making the right sensory tool a powerful reinforcer (reward).

Some sensory tools are also excellent fidget tools and can improve concentration and focus in children who need to keep their hands busy to listen and attend. Each child is unique, but favourites include spinning tools, light-up tools and stretchy or squishy tools. Other sensory tools are great to develop hand-eye co-ordination and fine motor skills.

Squishy Water balls, Porcupine balls, Stress balls:

  • Transitions/moving between activities/subjects
  • Squeeze the ball to reveal the creature inside
  • Time for play as a reward
  • Great for hand-eye co-ordination


  • Transition from one activity to another
  • Waiting time, with wait symbol
  • “You have 15 seconds to get started”

Squishy ball key chains:

Use as a squishy toy in the pocket

  • While lining up
  • Going from classroom to classroom
  • At assembly

Large squishy mesh ball:

  • To keep concentration while hearing a story
  • As a transition toy

Butterfly Fan – It is fun to create a cool breeze.

  • Use as reward.
  • Sensory Tool
  • To distract from behaviour

Social cooperation – Independant training.

Squeeze the trigger to rotate the fan.

Fidget Cube

  • To help with concentration
  • To satisfy sensory needs
  • Satisfy the clicker needs in all of us
  • Click, switch, roll the ball bearing, spin the disc

Monkeys in a barrel:

  • Great for hand eye coordination and fine motor skills
  • Use as a game to teach taking turns

Dinosaur squeeze eggs:

  • A transition tool
  • As a reward for great work or great concentration
  • Enhance fine motor skills
  • Squeeze the egg for stress relief