Something I don’t see discussed too often is storage of stim toys, so I’m going to talk about some photos of the ways I’m storing my collection, now that I have a fairly large collection of toys. How often I use an item and how reachable I need it to be impacts a lot on how I store it and where.
Some degree of organisation can help with acceptance, I’ve found, as there’s less feeling of “things everywhere” and “toys for kids” and a little more sense of purpose or focus.
This is my “left over” or “spare” kit - comprised of items that are extras, usually from buying multiple items in a pack because I can’t find them for individual purchase, making too many of a handmade item (I tend to “samemake” in the way I samefood, once I find a pattern or design that works), gifts, or items I reviewed that I just didn’t click with. I like having an extra kit because I dislike other people touching my toys, so having toys meant for handling by others is great for sharing if I’m stimming in front of guests. It’s easy to put a box like this on a table, too, or bring to a community gathering. It’s also something I can show other people, with everything neatly laid out, and a full kit like this is great for introducing people to the idea that stim toys exist.
(I struggle to communicate stimming in the abstract, but putting someone’s hands in a box of toys and letting them explore while I talk is so much easier. I’ve found that NT folks new to stimming don’t necessarily click with any one or two toys I’ve showed them, but having lots of options means at least one “gateway” toy, and once they’ve happened across something that provides a positive/pleasing/relaxing sensation for them, they’re more open to other toys. It happened this way with Mum: she wouldn’t touch anything until I made my marble mazes, but she’s now got her own spinner, massage balls and hedge balls…)
This kit is housed in a cardboard box and two plastic trays which fit inside it. The smaller, more tangly and rattly items (like bead fidgets, marble loops, Tangles, spinners, hedge balls, telephone cord bracelets) are housed in the trays, as I can stack one tray on top of the other and simply lift the top tray out of the box, meaning I don’t have to burrow through as many little items to find things. Some things will still take some burrowing (there’s a marble maze in the top basket, hidden by everything on top of it) but it’s a lot easier to use, and less overwhelming, than my previous method of stowing everything loose in a box.
The larger items like Play-Doh tubs, stress balls and plush are stacked in the other half of the box, with large pieces like plush keyrings and bean bags sitting loosely on top, so I don’t have to move too many things to reach the tubs underneath.
Slinkies are great for neatly containing smaller items, just like a pen caddy or cup: the one in this box holds a stress ball and two makeup blending sponges. I’ve got one on my desk holding several Tangles, a sponge and a few Hama bead loops!
My cardboard box is 31 cm long, 24 cm wide and 11.5 cm deep. It’s deep enough to hold a full-size plastic Slinky and a full-size snake puzzle standing on its shorter end. I paid $2.50 AUD for this from Fantastic Variety, a local dollar shop, but I more often see boxes of this size between $3-5 AUD. The plastic trays I bought from the same store in a 3 pack for $2 AUD, and they’re 23.2 cm long, 15.5 cm wide and 6 cm deep. With all the toys in it, the box is quite heavy.
For this sort of thing, it’s often better purchasing in person (if possible) as you can check that any inner trays fit inside your intended box. For this kind of storage, with a variety of toys of many different shapes, you ideally want a box deep enough to fit two trays on top of each other, leaving the rest of the box for taller items.
There are sewing and gear boxes designed to take larger items, many with compartments and removable trays, but most of these are very expensive. This set up cost me less than $5 AUD and is easy to use.
Do you have any tips on DIY chew stim toys? I cant afford to buy any
Absolutely! I’ll also include a few cheap chew stim toys at the end that don’t involve purchasing online and paying shipping, just in case it’s easier to buy those as opposed to buying materials, but I’ll also talk about ways to do the DIYs that, hopefully, don’t involve buying anything.
Firstly, the DIYs. There’s two ways to go about it, cloth or silicone. I’ve mentioned the cloth DIYs before on this post and I’ll quote my comment below:
There’s a no-sew necklace tutorial here at Hdydi and a slightly-more-complicated (but nicer-looking) bangle tutorial here at Craftaholics Anonymous.
(The bangle does require a little sewing, but it can be done via hand
or machine.) Both use cut-up T-shirts or T-shirt material. There’s also a
tutorial here at Lemon Lime Adventures for a version using wooden beads.
The Hdydi tute involves only the ability to cut up an old T-shirt into strips, braid it and knot it into a loop that can be a necklace or bracelet. It’s super easy as DIYs go if you can braid and knot (I’m aware that not all disabled people can manage even the super easy DIYs). If you want to turn it into a necklace, you may need to sew two strips together at the ends - a running stitch will do the job - in order to have length long enough that you can pull the braid over your head.
The Craftaholics Anonymous tute requires scrap fabric (again, you can cut up an old T-shirt). Instead of knotting the end of the braid, they’re sewn across (again, a running stitch will work just fine) the ends to finish them. The two sewn ends are then sewn to each other to form a bracelet, providing a neater finish.
If you’re making bracelets, you’ll want material with a little stretch: most cheap T-shirts are made from polyester. This will be fine. If your material doesn’t stretch at all, keep your braid a little loose or make the bracelet a little larger than needed - this gives you more play in the fabric to pull it over your hand.
These braids could easily be turned into keychain attachments or zip pulls, for those who want something chewable but don’t necessarily wish to wear them!
(For both of these tutorials, you need an old T-shirt and scissors. For the second, a needle and thread. If you need to borrow these from someone and don’t want to explain what you’re doing, just say you’re mending a tear in your own clothing.)
The Lemon Lime Adventures tute uses socks, shoelaces and wooden beads. The beads can be omitted if you don’t have them - just tie more knots in the socks. This might be an option for those who can’t/don’t wish to sew.
(If the bead is going in your mouth, don’t use painted or dyed ones. Plain, unpainted, undyed, unvarnished, untreated ones are safest.)
Other options for fabric chewing involve buying thick, soft woven fabric cord - think the kind used for hoodie strings, which I’ve
seen in many a dollar shop craft section - and tying knots in it before
knotting the ends in a loop to make a bracelet or necklace.
You may even have an old hoodie from which you can acquire the strings! Shoelaces, likewise, especially the thick ones. These probably won’t last as long as the Lemon Lime Adventures version, but they’re easily replaced.
(I’d wash everything mentioned above thoroughly before using, even if it’s new: you don’t want dye leeching from the cloth into your mouth.)
The silicone DIY method involves getting a silicone pot holder or some other silicone kitchen object, cutting it up and using it as a handheld chewable or putting a hole in it and stringing it on a cord (even a shoelace) for chewellery. (There are so many silicone kitchen items these days: you could look at the bottom part of a spatula, the edge of a baking tray, a shaped part from an ice tray or chocolate mould … whatever you think works.) Now, finding something silicone and thick will be the hardest part, as most of these things are pretty thin, and I think even a moderate chewer might go through these pretty quickly.
(I’ll stress here that I do not know what degree of food-safe some of these items may be. If it’s designed to hold food or have a lot of contact with food, I’d think it’d be pretty safe; if it’s not designed to have contact with food, it may be questionable.)
Lastly, I’ve found relatively inexpensive plastic and silicone teethers in stores like K-Mart and The Reject Shop. (I’ve posted about them here and here.) These are probably far better for tougher chewers, especially the silicone ones as they’re quite thick and sturdy, and may be worth the investment. I don’t know where you’re located, so I don’t know what stores to suggest, but I’d try looking at the better discount stores - the ones that stock cheap and clearanced brand-name items - and cheap department stores. From the right store, teethers aren’t expensive. The silicone ones I found are pretty cute (clearancing at $1 AUD!) and aren’t that different from the handheld chewables sold on Stimtastic. I say this because it may be as cheap to buy a silicone teether as it is to buy a silicone pot holder for DIY.
I hope this gives you some ideas. Followers, please feel welcome to add!
I found more cheap stimmy things at the magical Yen Huot Gift Shop in Footscray, Melbourne! Please note that these are likely available at other shops (I’ve seen Durmaz-branded products in every second dollar shop) but this store is the cheapest dollar shop I’ve ever seen, so expect to pay a little more elsewhere.
Mini Stress Balls: $1.50 AUD for four.
These I like least out of the haul. They’re not too firm, which is good for my hands, but they have a musty, chemical odour that I can’t get past. It’s the first time I’ve found stress balls that smell bad, so I’ll know now to do a sniff test before purchasing. The tennis ball is softest, the soccer ball hardest.
Glitter Bouncy Balls: $1.50 AUD for six.
I hadn’t seen the glitter-infused bouncy balls here in Australia before, so I was glad to find these. They’re the middle ball size (I see these in K-Mart selling at 6 for $2 AUD) so this is a really good price. Other than looking pretty, they’re bouncy balls. I don’t have too much to say other than that they bounce and have glitter!
Plastic Spinner: $2 AUD.
You know how you buy something thinking it’s going to be dodgy, bring it home and kick yourself for not buying more? It happened to me with this spinner. I should have bought a few more. I want a few more!
It’s a little wobbly and doesn’t spin as long as my best spinners (the green and silver bearing and red camo spinners in the collection photo) but it cost $2. It works better than my market spinners and spins just as well as my most expensive spinner. The best thing about this is that it’s light. I can spin it easily without tiring my hands, and I can stow it in my satchel (along with a Tangle and a couple of hedge balls) without weighting down my bag. If you’re like me and can’t take much weight on your arms or shoulders, this is an ideal carry-about-with-you spinner. Plus it’s so inexpensive. I have no idea how long this will last, but it’s absolutely worth the price. Also available in yellow and orange, for people who don’t love the colour green!
(I’ve a couple more spinners to review; I bought the metal spinner and Mum gave me the glow in the dark emoji spinner.)
Look at these beauties! My mom went to Perth recently to celebrate my grandma’s 80th birthday (I couldn’t go because it’s the middle of the school term, sadly). She came back last Saturday and surprised me with a haul of cuttings and little succulents! The colours are simply marvellous! Thank you so much, mom!
P.S. A small garden snail hitched a plane ride all the way from Australia to Singapore on one of the Aeoniums (in the hand-carry bag)! I’m giving the little fella a home in a little snail-habitat fashioned from an old but unused fish tank. Hope he likes it!