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Benefits Of A Sensory Room For Kids (An Expert Guide by OTs)

sensory room
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A sensory room, also known as a sensory space, is referred to as a specially designed space for individuals, especially children with sensory issues. These spaces, also referred to as sensory rooms or sensory spaces, are designed to help these children learn and develop coping skills for regulating their brain’s reactions to external stimuli.

Some sensory spaces, are as big as a whole room and others can be as small as a little corner of a larger room. The contents of these rooms or sensory spaces can be tailored according to the needs and interests of your child as every child has different needs and deals with stimuli differently.

Sensory rooms or sensory spaces are often designed for children with developmental disabilities, learning difficulties, sensory difficulties, and children with additional needs. Here, in a sensory room or sensory space, these children get a non-threatening and unrestrained space to explore their different senses and learn how to cope with external stimuli.

A sensory room or sensory space is not just a place for a time-out. It’s a space equipped with different sensory tools and toys according to the needs of your child. While this space can be used to regain your child’s control over their emotions, it provides them with a low-stress and fun environment to work through their reactions to certain stimuli.

While sensory rooms or sensory spaces cannot “cure” their brain’s sensitivity to certain stimuli, these sensory spaces are designed to overcome a certain amount of sensitivity by developing effective coping mechanisms.

Types of Sensory Rooms

Sensory Play for Kids with Special Needs. Help and Activities for kids with disabilities

Sensory rooms can be designed in many forms according to child’s needs, difficulties and interests. For example, children with hypersensitivity to noise may demand a calming environment and thus, they should be provided with a quiet space to deal with their brain’s sensitivity.  

However, when it comes to types of sensory rooms, they can be divided into two important types, a calming sensory room and a interactive sensory room.

  • Calming Sensory Rooms– A calming sensory room is designed for over-sensitive children. This type of space can induce calmness and relaxation in your child through different sensory tools and toys.

    Customise these rooms with sensory products like lava lamps, quiet soothing music, pillows, and tent. For example, lava lamps are great tools to calm your child by providing a visual cue. Similarly, pillows and tent can allow your child to relax.
  • Interactive Sensory Rooms– On the other hand, some children might be under-sensitive and require additional sensory information so they can engage in an activity.

These children need more sensory input before they can focus in class, therefore they need an interactive and stimulating environment. These children benefit from loud dance music, encouragement to use their bodies, colorful disco lights, etc.

What Are the Benefits of Sensory Rooms?

child boy playing at home in sensory box with kinetic sand.Development of fine motor skills.sensory

When a child with developmental challenges such as autism spectrum disorder or sensory processing disorder is provided with access to a sensory room, they experience a variety of sensory benefits.

However, as different individuals have different sensitivities and methods of reacting to them, the benefits of a sensory room might vary for each individual. Some of the common benefits of a sensory room include:

Provides Calming Effects

Over-sensitive children often negatively react to hypersensitivities such as loud music, bright light, or crowds. Their negative reactions might cause distress. Therefore, when a child with hypersensitivity is feeling overwhelmed, allow them to spend some quiet time in a calming or dimly-lit room.

A calming or dim sensory room for an over-sensitive child can help them regulate their nervous system and take charge of their emotions.

For children who are hypersensitive to loud noises, provide them with a variety of soothing items like an aromatherapy diffuser or a white noise machine to help them regain their control over their senses.

Encouraging your child to explore and engage with their immediate surroundings can help them to understand and interact positively with the larger world around them.

Helps in Sensory Stimulation

A sensory room is designed to help a child with additional needs to use the tools that are available to them in the room. Customize your child’s sensory room with objects that help them regulate their nervous system.

Here, you might need some additional help from an Occupational Therapist to know you’re your child’s sensory profile is and what sensory toys and tools might help your child the best. Finding effective sensory tools for your child can reduce the severity of sensory meltdowns.

Improves Focus

Children with developmental disorders like ADHD, autism, or sensory processing disorder often remain distracted. These children find it difficult to pay attention to activities around them. Here, a sensory room can help your child improve awareness of their surroundings and teach them how to cope with situations that demand concentration. This is also a great way to prepare your child for classrooms. If you are looking for 10 activities that are good for kids with ADHD read this article!

Aids Motor Skills Development

Child Development Specialist Looking At Little Girl Playing With Colorful Wooden Bricks

Consider customizing your child’s sensory room with equipment and toys that support their muscle and joint movement. Remember, muscle movement and balance are some of the major challenges for children with special needs, providing them with a safe space to practice fine and gross motor skills can be beneficial.

Tools and toys that encourage activities like jumping, bouncing, and stabilizing can help your child develop these skills. Apart from motor skills development, a sensory room can help children develop visual processing abilities and hand-eye coordination.

Aids Cognitive Development

While sensory rooms will not help your child to rewire their nervous system and brain, they can help them learn how to process experiences and emotions. A sensory room soothe their senses and help them to cope with situations where they might otherwise react extremely.

These rooms assist children with autism to explore cause and effect. This helps them to learn how their activities or actions influence the world around them.

Promotes Sensory Development

Create a sensory room at your home to let your child explore their senses more effectively. A sensory room provides a safe and stress-free environment for your child where they can learn and understand their brain’s reaction to external stimuli. By exposing your little one to their brain’s complex reactions you improve their ability to cope up with real-life experiences.

Creating a sensory room at home is a great way to encourage your little ones to explore their senses. This also helps them to develop coping strategies so that they can control their emotions when they are away from home.

Sensory rooms are safe and comfortable spaces to make your child practice activities that improve their reaction to external stimuli. To make sure that your child gets the most out of a sensory room, talk to an experienced OT for guidance.

Designing a sensory room can be challenging as it requires research and careful planning. An OT has the right knowledge and experience regarding which sensory solutions would work best for your child. 

Resources:

The Benefits of Sensory Rooms for Children with Autism and Social/Emotional Challenges. (2021). Retrieved 26 November 2021, from https://www.asd-1817.org/news-story?pk=1102483

Benefits of Sensory Rooms & Spaces in Schools and Homes. (2021). Retrieved 26 November 2021, from https://enablingdevices.com/blog/benefits-sensory-rooms-special-needs/

Jones, G. (2021). Benefits Of A Sensory Room. Retrieved 26 November 2021, from https://www.experia.co.uk/blog/the-benefits-of-a-sensory-room/

HOW SENSORY ROOMS IN SCHOOLS CAN HELP STUDENTS. (2021). Retrieved 26 November 2021, from https://www.vertisbuildings.com/blog/sensory-rooms-schools

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