Sensory Inspiration!

Ideas to Stimulate the Tactile System

Select items that provide good sensory feedback with a range of textures: bristly, bobbled, bubbly, bumpy, bushy, carved, chunky, coarse, cold, corrugated, carved, chunky, coarse, cold, damp, distended, downy, dry, elastic, enamelled, engraved, etched, flat, feathery, flaky, fleecy, fluffy, foamy, frothy, furled, furry,  gravelly, gritty, grainy, glossy, gooey, grooved, hard, hairy, icy, indented, knitted, knobbly, limp, malleable, matte, metallic, moist, mosaic, mushy, padded, patterned, pitted, plastic, pleated, pliable, pointed, polished, prickly, puffy, ribbed, ridged, rough, rubbery, runny, sandy, shaped, shiny, silky, sleek, slimy, slippery, smooth, smudged, soapy, soft, spongy, springy, stiff, stodgy, stubby, syrupy, tickly, tingly, tweedy, viscous, velvety, warm, wet wooden, woolly, woven.


Hand fidget toys, blanket wrap, massage with or without creams, exploring the use of body brushes.   

Arts & crafts are excellent tactile activities, explore paints, glitter glues, foamy soap/shaving cream, clay, sand, wood shavings, shredded paper, water, playdoh and different textured fabrics and material. 

Baking is very tactile, make dough, pastry, cake mix, batter mix, Explore dried foods such as lentils, pasta, pulses and rice.


Tip! if the individual is touch sensitive, s/he could wear lightweight gloves or explore via a paintbrush to create a barrier.




Ideas to Stimulate the Gustatory System

Present a wide range of different tastes and textures for the listener to explore at their own pace. Initial explorations could be through touch and smell, the next step to present a tiny touch to the lips progressing onto a morsel or a drop in the mouth, an egg spoon building up to a full bite.  

Play blindfold tasting games.


Explore aromatic, bitter, bland, buttery, caramel, carbonated, chalky, charcoal, charred, cheesy, chewy, chocolatey, cinnamon, citrus, citrusy, clove-like, coarse, creamy, crispy, crumbly, crunchy, delicate, earthy, effervescent, eggy,  fibrous, fiery, fishy, fizzy, flaky,  floral, floury, foamy, fresh, frosty, fruit, garlicky,  gingery,  grainy, granular, grapey, gritty, herbal ,honeyed, icy, juicy, lemony, light, limey, malty,  metallic, milky, minty, moist, mushy, musty, oily, oniony, peppery, pickled,  plummy, powdery,  pungent, quenching, refreshing, ,rich, ripe, rubbery, salty, sandy, savoury, seasoned, sharp, sinewy, slimy, smoky, smooth,  soggy, sour, sparkling, spiced, spicy, spongy, squidgy, squishy, starchy, sweet, syrup, tangy, tart, tender, toasty, toothsome, vanilla, velvety, vinegary, zesty, zingy 

Ideas to Stimulate the Olfactory System

Our sense of smell is linked with memory and emotions. Exploring smells help individuals to understand the world around them.


There are an array of smells to explore: earthy, tangy, refreshing, floral, fruity, spicy, citrus, sweet, crisp, fresh, perfumed, clean, antiseptic, aromatic, bitter, burnt, comforting, damp, delicate, earthy, eggy, evocative, fishy, fresh, fragrant, floral, fruity, heady, musky, musty, refreshing, salty, savoury, sharp, smoky, soapy, sour, sweet and woody.  


Explore natural items such as herbs and spices, fruit and vegetables and scented edible flowers such as rose petals and lavender.

Explore artificial products such as essential oils, scented creams & soaps, diffusers, joss sticks, scented bags, soaps, pot pourri and unlit scented candles.

Play 'Guess the smell games.'


Liven art and craft activities by adding a few drops of essential oils, fresh herbs such as mint or lavender or dried spices to homemade playdoh. 


Add essences to paints. You could theme by colour, E.g. Add strawberry or raspberry essence to red paint, vanilla or banana essence to yellow paint, peppermint essence to green paint and so on.


Make a potion. Take a paint palette or cupcake baking tray and fill it with items that smell. You could theme them by colour E.g. A yellow themed potion may include grated lemon zest, yellow food colouring, sweetcorn, bananas, raw potato, edible flowers such as sunflowers and marigolds, spices like turmeric and cumin, yellow split peas and lentils. Provide a cup or jar for the potion to be mixed in along with egg spoons, teaspoons, a pair of tweezers or tongs to encourage fine motor skills.


The potions could be friendship potions, Harry Potter spells...the imagination is the limit!

*It is important never to force stimuli upon an individual. At any point if they are showing signs that they are not enjoying the experience stop immediately. 


**Be allergy aware!


Ideas to Stimulate the Auditory System


Stimulate the listener’s auditory system by presenting a range of sounds familiar and unfamiliar at varying volumes and in different locations, e.g behind the listener’s head so they can turn their head to locate the sound.


Note the listeners preferences to calming/alerting music, grinding, hushed, monotonous, musical, intermittent, rhythmic, mellow or percussive.


Play musical instruments such as recorders, blow whistles and party blowers. Hum, whisper and use silly voices. Explore volume and use of headphones.


Listen to bubbles pop. Listen to the sounds of nature, the leaves rustling through the trees and the birds singing.


Play listening games. (A quick search on the internet will give you access to limitless sound effects from helicopters to howler monkeys!) Play the sound effect and see if the listener can guess what the noise is. You can theme the sound games E.g 'Trip to the Rainforest', 'Transport', 'Animals' and so on!

Listening to meditation teaches calmness, and develops understanding of thoughts, feelings and emotions helping to build confidence. A quick online search will open a library of free meditations, suiting a range of audiences. Young children can visit secret treehouses, meet sleepy sloths or go on magic carpet rides. Teenagers can explore the cosmos, meet their spirit animal or enjoy a relaxing body scans.

Ideas to Stimulate the Visual System


Stimulate sight by experimenting with familiar, and providing new, visual experiences. 


Track and locate moving stimuli such as light from torches and watching the movement of spinning tops, fidget spinners, spinning hand held lights, bubbles or the wax in lava lamps.


Explore colour hues, shiny, bright, brilliant, cloudy, colourful, dark, dim, dull, flickering, fuzzy, gleaming, glistening, glowing, hazy, sparkly, shadowy, pale, rippling, shimmering, shiny, translucent.

Make your own projector by sticking a shape onto the end of a torch and projecting onto a wall, or by covering one end of a cardboard tube with cling film, sticking a shape or silhouette on the end then shine the torch through the open end.