Summer brings splashing in swimming pools, shouts of laughter at backyard barbecues, the whirl of carnival rides, the smell of festival foods, and late nights at outdoor family and community events. But for neurodivergent persons who may sometimes experience intense reactions to stimuli, outdoor activities like these can overwhelm. That’s why Sensory Tool House, LLC in Lacey offers great tips and supportive equipment for enjoying the summer, while managing reactions to stimuli.

Sensory Tool House offers a wide variety of supportive products and devices as part of the store’s May is Mental Health Awareness Month display. Photo credit: Nancy Krier

Sensory Tool House Serves the Neurodivergent Community

“Our big goal is to help the community,” says General Manager Tahj Malone. Sensory Tool House has sensory friendly products and events as well as education to help keep summer experiences for the neurodivergent community on a fun yet even keel.

Neurodivergence covers a wide range, for example, a person who is autistic, or hasattention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyslexia, Tourette’s syndrome, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or other brain features causing a uniqueness in in brain functioning that differs from the “norm”. Sensory-friendly products and activities can help the neurodivergent community regulate their reactions to stimuli, and more comfortably enjoy outdoor summer activities.

Tahj Malone says a portable Sensory Bubble can be quickly set up to provide a calm space to decompress. Photo credit: Nancy Krier

Sensory Friendly Products to Support Outdoor Sensory Regulation

Sensory Tool House offers sensory friendly products to aid in managing stimuli while preserving outdoor fun. “We have a Bungee Bounce Swing,” Malone says as just one illustration. “Everyone likes to swing, and the motion does wonders for the vestibular sensory system and for regulation.”

Staff look for products that provide multiple ways for the sensory system to release reactions to overloaded input. For example, the Bungee Bounce Swing both swings and bounces. “We look for products that pack in as much sensory processing support as possible,” he says. And tools like these also develop muscles while playing. “It’s active play,” he says. “Go outside, entertain yourself and burn calories. That’s very, very important.”

Several products can be used both outside and indoors. “we take into consideration the rain,” Malone says. “We have indoor swing stands and swing mounts, and you can move the swings inside if you have the space.”

Outdoor swings available at Sensory Tool House help release reactions to overloaded sensory systems, in a fun way. Photo credit: Nancy Krier

Methods to Regulate When Outside Becomes Overwhelming

Malone describes methods to reduce any over-stimulating effects of busy outdoor activities that are part of enjoying the warm weather. These methods can help an individual arrive at a calmer and more regulated state.

“There are two ways to getting to the state of what I like to say is ‘whelmed,’” he says. “You are not under-whelmed, and you are not overwhelmed.”

“The first is to completely let out the energy,” he says. Examples include providing a safe place for the individual to “let loose” such as jumping on a vinyl crash pad or riding on a toy animal. There are many ways, and the staff is always there to help find the best tool or activity for you or those you care for.

The second is to find a quiet or calm space or means to decompress. “We go the route of sensory deprivation,” he explains. Examples of these products available at Sensory Tool House include headphones, a cooling compression shirt, a portable Sensory Bubble that acts like a blackout tent, or a weighted blanket.

He notes that tools that work one day may not help on other days because a person’s sensory preferences can shift with the environment. “If you are up to the challenge, it’s a fun challenge,” he says. “Here, we try to reduce that challenge as much as possible.”

An inflatable bounce house/climbing cube and swings at Sensory Tool House are just two products that help manage stimuli while enjoying the outdoors. Photo credit: Nancy Krier

Sensory Tool House Provides Resources at the Outdoor Lacey Spring Fun Fair

Sensory Tool House will also be a community resource at a popular outdoor event, the Lacey Spring Fun Fair, on the Saint Martin’s University campus May 20-21. “The city of Lacey has been so awesome. tsays Malone. The City of Lacey is providing an inclusive event with a Sensory Regulation Room in partnership with Sensory Tool House, which gives opportunity to the community to enjoy the activities of the Spring Fun Fair, for all. When adults or children become overstimulated in the busy environment, instead of leaving, they can come to the Sensory Recovery room, Regulate – Reset – Rejoin. For 20% or more of our community this gives access to an event that may have otherwise been inaccessible. Sensory Tool House states they are honored to be in a community making meaningful change.

Amelia McCarry, Sensory Tool House events coordinator and customer service team member, says they will also have a booth with a focused selection of products. McCarry adds that the store will also be open the first day of the fair if people want to come in to look at more sensory friendly products or use the store’s sensory room to reset their nervous system.

Contact Sensory Tool House to Learn More

Katie McMurray, owner and CEO, founded Sensory Tool House. She is also a board member, volunteer, wife, and mom to three neurodivergent kids. In addition, McMurray and her team provide teacher professional development, employer training on neurodiversity in the workplace, sensory room design, speaking, sensory room rental, and other resources to support the community.

To learn more about what Sensory Tool House has to offer and see the large variety of sensory friendly products that facilitate successful outdoor as well as indoor experiences, visit the Sensory Tool House website or stop into the Lacey store.

Sensory Tool House, LLC
5831 Lacey Boulevard SE Suite J, Lacey


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