April is Autism Awareness Month, but Rachel Hayden had even more inspiration for creating the sensory bags that she is giving away to people who have special needs: her brother Russell.
You Are SENSational bags are filled with fun sensory toys. Hayden, age 26, came up with the idea when she noticed that Russell, age 24 who is nonverbal autistic, had a hard time adjusting to the disruption of his daily routine, therapies, and visits with friends, caused by the current quarantine. “As tough of a time this is for the typical child and adult,” she said, “it’s even more trying for anyone with any kind of special need.” She explained that although they try to keep a routine of doing puzzles and games, “there seems to be a lack of sensory of motivation.” She wanted to change that not only for Russell, but for other children and adults in need right now. The You Are SENSational bags are a way to help fill that gap.
Russell Hayden with You are SENSational Bags - Photo courtsey of Rachel Hayden
Hayden enlisted the assistance of her boyfriend and together they started assembling bags filled with a handful of sensory toys such as fun tubes, slime, kinetic sand, and balloons. She tries to fulfill all the sensory needs in every bag, from the “squishy to the noisy satisfaction.” Each bag also includes a poem written by her mom, and she hand delivers the bags throughout Long Island, usually trying to conquer one town in a day.
Photo courtesy of Rachel Hayden
Donations are needed to help more families
The bags run fully on donations and Hayden says that “any contribution would be incredibly helpful.” Many of the donations have come from the Sensory Beans Children’s Gym in Wantagh. She said, “They have helped me reach an endless amount of families that needed bags.”
Hayden wants to help as many families as she can and keep making and delivering the bags as long as possible. She is accepting monetary donations via Venmo @Rachel-Hayden-24 and is also happy to accept donations of sensory toys. If anyone would like to make a toy donation or if knows someone who would enjoy receiving a You Are SENSational bag, contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For additional information, visit You Are SENSational on Facebook.