Sensory rooms are essential for kids with ASD. The advantages of having a sensory room or sensory plan at home are:
- The child will receive sensory input at times of their need.
- The child will be able to gain sensory tolerance.
- Enhance exploration.
- Improves child’s gross motor and fine motor skills.
- Child’s cognitive and perceptual skills will be developed.
- Helps your child to self-regulate whether it can be behavior, emotions and/or thoughts.
- Reduces stress and make your child happy.
- The child usually spends more time at home, so providing sensory input at home will assist your therapist to move forward with their planned goals.
- For any reason, if the child cannot visit the therapy center, then this sensory plan can fill the gap.
- No need to panic when the weather conditions are not favoring for you to take your child outside to provide sensory input, the below sensory ideas will resolve the issue.
Before we plan for a sensory room, it is important to consult your Occupational Therapist and undergo a detailed Sensory Assessment of your child. At the end of the assessment, your therapist would be able to provide you with the precise information about your child’s sensory requirements like whether the child is visual hypo/hypersensitive, auditory hypo/hypersensitive, vestibular hypo/hypersensitive, proprioceptive hypo/hypersensitive, etc. This will, in turn, helps us to provide a sensory enriched environment by building an individualised sensory room. This would bring a positive change in your child because when sensory issues of the child are addressed effectively, then achieving a planned goal or an age-appropriate skill will be smooth and quick.
After gaining explicit details about your child’s needs by your therapist, start to list out the required items that provide sensory input. You can also get suggestions of items from your therapist because your therapist works closely with your child, so he/she might have known what your child’s likes and dislikes are. Not all sensory toys will be liked by your kid, they have their preference.
Next, if possible, based on the items in your list, try to allocate a room in your house for your child with all the necessary items inside the room. But this might not be possible for all and also it does not mean your child might not receive adequate sensory input if they do not have a separate room.
In this article, we are going to discuss both the ways of arranging the sensory items.
First, let’s see how each sensory items can be placed in different rooms at your house.
- If your child needs a proprioceptive input quite often and if he/she loves to jump on the trampoline, which on the other hand calm your child, then get one and place it your living room or bedroom. Also, as a parent, you can provide neutral warmth and sandwiching (get proper advice from your therapist), when you find your child is craving for proprioceptive input.
- For providing vestibular input, swing, rocking horse, rocking chair or therapy ball can be provided, as these do not consume more space and it can be placed anywhere within the house.
- If your child is a visual seeker and scared of darkness, then a LED light, disco light or serial lights can be fixed in your bedroom and turned on especially when preparing to sleep. This makes the child feel secured and also satisfies their visual hyposensitivity.
- To have a handy visual toy, it would be interesting to make one for your kid. For example, a bottle filled with water and glitters or any colorful tiny objects can be so satisfying and there are a lot more DIY ideas to make sensory toys.
- If your child needs a tactile input, the textured board or in the form of a ring is available in shops but this is also one of the DIY items that can be made by yourself by knowing which texture your child craves for.
- The ball pit is one of the effective sensory items that provide tactile stimulation and calm the child when stressed. This can be incorporated into an inflated pool and can be placed in the corners of the bedroom, living room or study room. The closed terrace is also a good place to place the ball pit, but strict supervision is necessary.
- For the auditory hypersensitive, a wireless or Bluetooth speaker can be placed in a room where your child often spends in the house. The speaker is either connected to your smartphone or to the computer to play the music recommended to your child.
- To provide an olfactory input (sense of smell), a bottle filled with non-irritant scent products can be used or cotton dipped in essential oil can be provided.
In the above examples, we can see that the sensory items are not placed in a separate room, they are additionally added in the common rooms where other family members utilize. This would add an advantage that your child is not isolated but mingled with your family members in different rooms.
If you plan to give your child a separate room, then the plan can be incorporated as follows:
- Make a sensory wall which consists of different types of textures your child like to experience.
- A climbing wall can also be designed based on your child’s age and motor skills.
- Place a ball pit to any corner of your child’s room.
- A speaker (as mentioned above) is also added in the child’s room.
- Set up a visual stimulator, LED light, serial light, or glowing stickers, and make it accessible for your child to turn it on and off as per their mood.
- Place a box filled with textured and different shaped toys for your child to explore. For example, spike balls, wooden shape blocks, soft toys, mesh balls, different shapes of pasta, etc.
- Besides, the tactile board can also be kept in your child’s room.
- On the floor, textured mats can also be placed, so when your child walks on the floor with barefoot, he/she will receive tactile information.
- Place trampoline, swing, ladder, slide, tunnel, therapy ball and other items (depending on the child’s interest) that provide proprioceptive and vestibular inputs.
- Riverstones can also be added to the list, as this improves the child’s balance and coordination.
- A vertical mirror can be walled.
- To make your child’s room pleasing, add some non-irritating and safe room scent.
POINTS TO REMEMBER:
- Before placing or setting up the sensory items, ensuring safety within the room and around the house is mandatory.
- Supervision is equally important.
- Make sure the toys are sanitized regularly.
- If your child has a separate room, make sure the room is clean and tidy.
- When providing sensory bottles, ensure the lid is closed very tightly.
- Always look for any distress signs, if any sign is encountered stop providing the sensory input, as this may lead to a meltdown.
Gift your child with a sensory-rich environment 🙂