Sensory Toys In My Bed

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Gosh I’m writing a blog post early today. Welcome to ~5am… I’m up super early today as I’m resetting my sleep schedule after been unwell for a few weeks. Two weeks of broken tummy has been pretty rough, but it’s improving slowly!

Anyway! I’ve recently be tweeting about the sensory toys in my bed and it felt like it needed a proper post… so here’s a post all about them.

I’m going to give a bit of background, then cover off, what toy I use, why I choose them, why they are so magic & why I think everyone should have a few!

What is a sensory toy?

So erm. What do I mean by sensory toy? And erm… how’s that different to say Lion or other plushies in my life?

In a nutshell… sensory toys are objects but plushies are friends.

All the plushies in my Life (like Lion!) have their own little roles and jobs. They all have personalities and it’s important they are comfy and happy. For example, none of my plushies live in a wardrobe or a draw. They all have a specific spots in my flat. Some even have mini bedrooms in bookcases.

While plushie are sensory as heck (so many Lion snuggles!) they are not themselves sensory toys!

Instead sensory toys are mostly objects which are designed with sensory play in mind. For example, I have hanging toys, grasping toys, chewy toys, toys which have lots of different textures and toys which make a noise.

Unlike plushies, sensory toys don’t have personalities and are ‘inert’. They can live in a box and come out when I want to play with them. I don’t have to worry about hurting or upsetting a sensory toy.

Over the years I’ve accumulated a big box of sensory toys. Mostly a mix of baby toys, charity shop finds and presents from friends and family.

I’m really glad they are part of my life. I may one day review them all individually (it might make for a fun YouTube channel!) but for today I’m just going to post about the sensory toys which live in my bed and why

My bed is epic.

My bed is the single most important place in my life. It’s where I feel safest. Depending on my mobility, wobblyness and soreness, I may be in my bed for 12-15 hours per day

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For folks who don’t know, I have a pretty epic bed It was custom made for me by the lovely folks at Tough Furniture and it’s got big sides. It keeps me safe if I have a seizure and the enclosed design helps my sleep no end. I’ve also designed and 3D printed mounts for things like my phone, drinks, meds & glasses.

It’s not big, but wow there’s lots of neat tools and tricks built into my bed.

From a sensory perspective, the main things are the plushies, the lights and the toys.

I’ll write plushies & lights properly another day… but very briefly there’s always at least one large plushie in the bed & there’s heaps of clever lighting.

Plushie wise, it’s normally Lion who manages the bed but he’s trained up other plushies for the role too. They own and run the bed…. It’s part of why the bed feels safe. It’s a managed space :)

Lighting wise, I have a Hooty owl star projector and a lava lamp projector.

I love the moving light from the projectors as it makes the room feel alive and interesting. Theres also a magnetic smart light switch which manages all the lights and also controls the fan.

Wow. Lots of background on my bed. Now for the main part…. All about the sensory toys!

The Sensory Toys in my bed.

I don’t have a specific system but generally speaking I have 3 or so sensory toys in my bed most of the time.

Normally… I have a a dangly toy for grasping, a bouncy toys for moving and a big flat multi texture toys for exploring.

The dangly toy normally lives in the corner of the bed. it’s something I can grasp at with my hands. For whatever reason I love being able to cuddle around a plushie, then have something to hold or pull with my hands. It really helps me to relax and rest.

The one I have at the moment is a baby style one I was given by a friend. The friend saw it in a charity shop window and thought “oh, that’s very Jamie”. I asked them why, and they couldn’t explain beyond the fact they could imagine me enjoying it.

They were dead right. It’s got a bunch of dangly things hanging off a twisty ropey base. Here’s a photo of it, hanging in the corner where it lives. The springyness works really well for me, it can be pulled on and the spring back is delightful.

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The second sensory toy in my bed is normally something for movement stins and kenetic sensory play.

Right now… it’s a little COVID-19 a friend gave me during the pandemic. My friend was worried about giving me COVID, so he brought me a soft toy COVID so he could give me COVID in a positive ways.

As a soft felt ball who likes being thrown around… it’s perfect for throwing, catching, rolling, spinning and bouncing off things. Much like how a virus isn’t alive (just an angry string of DNA!), my COVID soft toy isn’t a full plushie.

I love the humour and he’s perfect for gentle bouncy fun as my hands wake up.

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The third sensory toy I normally have in my bed is some form of flat wide sensory toy with lots of textures to explore with my fingers.

I’ve got a few, some are like mini blankets with different patches, others are Lion shaped or dinosaur themed.

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I’ve also got a few different cloth books… as long as it’s flat and multiple materials it does the job.

The current flat toy is a Whinnie the Pooh soft book from the Disney 100 experience gift shop.

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My friends brought it for me after i absent mindely picked it up and played with it while they were looking at clothes.

It had a been a long day and exceptionally busy in the exhibit… it was a bright and hectic place. I’d been mega wobbly that day so we’d used the buggy and I was sensory seeking by chewing on empty water bottles. Etc.

A little sensory book worked much better… one of my friends paid for it on the way out… after I had a moment of hesitation putting it back. I don’t normally do toys in the buggy (just a plushie) but for that environment, that day, I needed something to channel the sensory seeking into and it was perfect.

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Like most big flat sensory toys, it works great with my hands. If I’m really tired or sensory seeking I’ll quite often squeeze each section. I’ll explore the textures one after the other, in a specific order and repeat the order.

I don’t do it on purpose, my body just likes doing it in a stimmy way. Unlike the dangling toys (which tend to stay fixed to the corner or a side) the flat toys can move wherever I want them.

The specific toys swap out from time to time, but generally speaking there’s always one of each type within my bed.


So… that’s a nice breakdown of what sensory toys live in my bed. By why the heck do I have them?

I think broadly speaking there’s three reasons. Sensory stuff, waking my body up and connectedness.

The sensory side is pretty simple. My body seeks out sensory input. It will find it whatever I’m doing, at least with specific toys I’m not chewing my hands or grinding my teeth etc. Redirecting my sensory seeking to specific toys has made it easier to manage and more joyful. Win win.

Next up… waking up my body. I’ve always had a hard time getting my hands working in the morning. It got worse after my injury, especially if I get too cold!

A bit of time playing with sensory toys really helps wake my hands up. I sorta naturally end up reaching for them in the morning… I’ve done it for about as long as I can remember.

There also a side benefit with my ADHD meds. Having lots of movement early in my meds window helps to get the day started. Once my hands have, woken up I can also use my phone to clear my email etc.

Finally… there a sort of joyful connectedness as each toy has a back story. Most of them come from friends and fun adventures. Whe I’m very wobbly it’s easy to get quite isolated from folks, so anything that can help me feel connected is useful.

That’s just the practical stuff…

Final thoughts

More than anything… there’s a sort of magic which comes from being myself and letting my stims and sensoryness flow into something fun.

Pushing back on societal assumptions about what we’re allowed to ‘enjoy’ is important if we want to preserve the joyful parts of our lives.

My best days start with a smooth sensory filled morning and we should celebrate the toys, rather than worry about which section of the shop they come from.

Like with many things in my life, thriving comes from embracing what works and preserving the joyful moments. I’d recommend everyone to give sensory toys a go… ya never know what you might be missing out on :)


Spaced Out & Smiling is about exploring the fun side of Autism, and trying to understand what it means to be Autistically Happy.

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Jamie: @JamieKnight
Lion: @Lickr