When DJ Wetzel’s oldest daughter was around three years old, she was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder, an inability for the brain to process senses correctly. She began therapy with occupational and physical therapists and every time, DJ’s wife would come home with long Amazon lists of different toys and tools that could help their daughter.
DJ and his wife understood the importance of the toys and saw their effectiveness but there were two issues: the toys were expensive and not well-made.
“I’m cheap and the expense of all these toys began to add up. I thought I could make better products at a more affordable price point,” said DJ.
And that’s how Sensory Jungle was born.
At the time his daughter was diagnosed with sensory processing disorder (SPD), DJ was working in financial aid at a local Greenville college but still possessed an entrepreneurial spirit and drive to both help his daughter and other kids who had been diagnosed with SPD or autism. He poured himself into researching how to create, build, and supply these toys. He consulted extensively with occupational therapists who help kids with autism and SPD on a daily basis to make sure that what he was seeking to create would be beneficial.
SPD essentially means that the brain does not respond correctly to some or all of our body’s senses. DJ uses the analogy of a cup to measure sensory input:
“For some people, a light touch on their arm may fill up their cup a little and it feels pleasant. For other kids who may be dysregulated [and have SPD], a light touch on their shoulder may feel like a bee sting where it fills that cup faster and overflows. It can be overwhelming.” The tools and toys that Sensory Jungle sells are made with the goal of helping children with SPD learn how to better regulate their sensory input response.
Why Sensory Jungle is unique
The tools and toys that DJ’s daughter used when she started occupational therapy were decent and certainly helped as she worked through therapy. But once DJ opened Sensory Jungle and began to learn more about SPD and how to create products that would help kids, it was like a whole new world opened up for their family. He saw how these toys immensely helped his daughter, giving her the tools she needed to help better regulate herself.
The Greenville-based company is unique because DJ combines both a passion project and thoughtful entrepreneurship. He seeks to connect that passion with products that can help kids all around the country. Also, the training and professional aspect that Sensory Jungle brings to their products is a big reason for their success.
What sensory toys sell best?
The bestsellers for Sensory Jungle are their water beads and their wooden rocker balance board.
“For a child who may struggle with an acute sense of touch and feeling, dipping their hands into a bowl of water beads can help train the brain on how to properly respond to that specific sensation. Plus, they are just a lot of fun!” DJ explained.
The Bubble Timer is also a neat toy. DJ said it can provide kids with SPD or autism an easy way to find calm when they are dysregulated.
Where to purchase sensory toys
Currently, products are only available online at the Sensory Jungle website.
DJ and his family have put immense thought into the toys they have chosen to design and stock. They know what it’s like to have a child with SPD and have sought to help families and children like theirs.
“Our products are for kids, their parents, and teachers who are looking for a way to help children better regulate themselves or perform better in school – that’s really what our products are designed for,” said DJ.
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One lucky Kidding Around fan will receive a Sensory Jungle prize pack that includes a Balance Board, Water Beads, and Weight Lap Pad.
This giveaway ends at midnight on July 30, 2021. Good luck!
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I love sensory toys they’re great for children and a lifesaver for the classroom.