In the realm of special needs education, understanding the significance of appropriate break time is a cornerstone in supporting the needs of neurodivergent children while still supporting neuro-typical children. One essential component of providing productive break time involves the creation of sensory rooms (also sometimes referred to as “sensory dens”). These spaces are carefully designed to cater to the unique sensory needs of kids with sensory processing disorders like autism spectrum disorder (ASD), anxiety, and ADHD.
Sensory rooms are integral for effectively managing sensory overload in these children, allowing them to reach their full learning and social potential. Some of the important components to consider to promote relaxation, engagement, and emotional regulation in kids dealing with sensory processing disorders are as follows.
Visual sensory experiences, including the incorporation of dimming LED lights, stimulating or calming colors, and interactive visual displays, are carefully selected for the child’s individual needs.
Auditory sensory components such as including nature sounds and soft music, can help reduce stress and enhance a preferred learning experience.
Tactile sensory experiences such as weighted elements, soft and varying textures, and experiences like sand and water tables are crucial to these sensory rooms. Sensory rooms and spaces are also specifically designed to engage gross motor skills such as running, jumping, swinging, and throwing in a safe and productive manner.
Recent studies have proven the invaluable role of sensory dens in bolstering learning for neuro-divergent children. This research has demonstrated that sensory interventions significantly improved attention and reduced anxiety among students with autism spectrum disorder, Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), ADHD, as well as showing that these spaces emphasise the profound benefits of sensory rooms in enhancing focus, regulation, and overall learning and social experiences for neurodivergent learners.
How Do Sensory Rooms Support Learning?
Sensory rooms are sanctuaries designed to foster tranquillity and learning for kids, especially those with ASD and ADHD. These spaces, resembling cozy hideaways, are adorned with soft, dim lighting and adorned walls featuring textures and calming colors. Filled with sensory tools like tactile mats, swings, and bean bags, these rooms invite exploration and interaction. Kids can freely run, jump, and touch items within, encouraging sensorial engagement. This environment caters to their sensory needs, providing proprioceptive, vestibular, and tactile stimulation, promoting self-regulation and reducing anxiety. For children with ASD, these rooms offer a safe haven to decompress from sensory overload, while those with ADHD benefit from the focused, calming effects, aiding concentration and emotional regulation. By accommodating various sensory inputs, these rooms empower children to navigate their surroundings comfortably and enhance their overall learning experiences.
Can a bedroom be a Sensory Room?
Yes! Children spend a lot of their time in their bedrooms and it becomes a space that feels safe and consistent. With the right equipment, colors and textures, a sensory bedroom can be a safe haven for relaxation and peace.
What Sensory Equipment And Activities Are Found in Sensory Rooms?
While the contents may vary based on the individual needs of a child, there are some “tried-and-true” items and activities that are often found in a sensory room. Commonly outfitted with soft carpeting and various coloured lighting fixtures, these spaces help those that work with individuals with disabilities learn more about each child’s sensory needs. Working with an array of sensory toys will help support children in remaining calm and grounded during play.
Sensory Room Toys and Equipment
Exercise Balls: Allowing these students to sit on something different than a rigid classroom chair is an excellent reprieve from the feeling of being trapped behind a desk. Being able to bounce and work with their core helps to stimulate general posture and balance, while remaining upright and attentive. Also it provides a tool to rock back and forth gently to calm the nervous system.
Light Walls / Punching Bags: Activities where these children are able to release any aggression towards a fun game goal work well for certain children. Whether it be a Whack-a-Mole style game or simply a punching bag, children are able to gain proprioceptive pressure to their joints through the release of some physical anger.
Bean Bags for Controlled Throwing: Utilizing balls or beanbags like our Kozie Weighted Proprioceptive Bean Bags to feel weight on hand and arm joints are incredibly beneficial for individuals with Autism particularly. Whether it be tossing these items at a target, or trying to balance with added weight will work wonders for some children.
Body Sacs: Some children with disabilities that fidget show positive reactions to toys like our Sensory Kozie Sac, which provide children with a fun outlet to experience pressure within their arms and legs that lead to calming of their proprioceptive systems.
Swings: Some children simply need to feel linear movement, and at times, moving around and having a goal to accomplish is too much for them to be interested in. Being able to sit and still gain sensory stimulation on a swing helps to calm some agitation.
Bubble Lamps: Similar to swings, these visually-stimulating Sensory Room staples allow for those that want to simply lay down or read a book within these spaces the ability to relax through an ever-changing calming element within the space.
How Much Do Sensory Rooms Cost To Build?
The cost varies based on factors like room size, equipment, and sensory tools. Companies like Kozie Clothes offer fantastic products like their Sensory Kozie Sac, a magical cocoon of comfort that wraps kids in calming pressure. Including items like this in your sensory room adds value but doesn't break the bank. Prices for sensory rooms can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, depending on customization and needs. DIY options or using existing resources can cut costs. Moreover, grants, fundraising, or community support often help cover expenses. Remember, the true worth lies in the incredible benefits these rooms offer to neurodivergent individuals, making every penny spent an investment in creating inclusive and supportive spaces!"
Get Started On A Sensory Room Today
In essence, sensory rooms are transformative sanctuaries fostering learning and emotional regulation for neurodivergent children. With varied equipment from swings to bubble lamps, these spaces are customized havens addressing unique sensory needs. Cost-wise, flexibility exists from affordable DIY to more elaborate setups, showcasing that there's no one way to build a sensory room. Now, it's your turn! Share your ideas and experiences in crafting these spaces, contributing to the discussion on supporting neuro-diversity. Together, let's amplify the conversation and enrich the world of inclusive education. Comment below with your insights and innovations—let's build these sanctuaries hand in hand!
Since we are always looking to further help you and your child live life to the fullest, we would love to hear any toy suggestions to incorporate into the home. Along the same lines, if you are a special need educator interested in utilizing our products, or if you have any product recommendations that you see working for your students, we would love to hear them! Always remember that while each child’s needs are different, your knowledge of your child’s preferences may just help another parent/educator provide greater assistance to the child in their life