No kid on this planet hates their bedroom. For children with sensory processing disorders, it’s a heaven where they can retreat and calm down if overwhelmed. Phones, televisions, and flashing lights are all triggers for sensory overload—a huge source of stress and anxiety for kids with autism spectrum disorders.
You know, as a parent, that your child needs a special place where they can self-regulate whenever they need to by providing satisfying sensory experiences. These sensory rooms are popular options and used for many disorders.
Plus, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to provide your kid with sensory inputs that address their needs. There are many cost-effective ways to provide the right experience. Here's how to set a sensory space for relaxation and a good night's sleep.
The Benefits of Sensory Bedrooms
A child with autism will experience various advantages, but they are different from person to person. Some benefits include:
- Has a calming effect. Negative reactions can cause distress and anxiety in children. When they feel overwhelmed, spending time in a dim, calming room is needed to take charge of their emotions.
- Improves focus. A sensory space enhances concentration, attention, and alertness. Olfactory, optical, or acoustic stimuli help hyperactive children learn where to direct their focus when dealing with real-life encounters healthily.
- Encourages socialization. Sensory rooms provide a place where the child can practice interacting with people. It’s a stress-free environment that allows the child to learn social skills they need to grow.
- Improves motor skills. In a safe sensory space, children can improve their physical skills by bouncing or jumping on special equipment (proprioceptive input). Activities designed to help children coordinate their actions will help them understand information regarding body awareness and balance.
- Promotes cognitive development. Such a room can be instrumental in teaching children how to process experiences and cope in social situations. It will help increase brain function and encourage creative thinking while also developing a sense of cause and effect.
- Stimulates the child. A multi-sensory room encourages feelings of awareness and well-being. Such a space contains intriguing toys or items that allow them to become more aware of their environment in a relaxing manner.
How to Design a Sensory Room
As you can see, providing your child with a sensory space will help them grow and develop the skills they need to thrive in this world. Encourage your little miracle to explore his senses where they feel comfortable and safe. The best part is, a sensory space doesn’t have to take the entire room. Dedicate your time to build a room perfect for your child’s needs. Here is what you need to do to create the perfect space:
Choose Calming Colors
Color can affect our mood and how we function. For kids on the spectrum, some colors are as disruptive as sound. Red, yellow, or white hues are overstimulating, but blues, greens, purples, or greys are soothing and comforting. Earthy tones of brown also absorb more light instead of reflecting it. Avoid patterns and prints that can overstimulate and pick an allergy- and asthma-friendly paint. Pay attention to the bedding and soft furnishings, which can potentially impact the quality of your child’s sleep.
Some kids on the autism spectrum respond to smell. Strong smells can be off-putting, but on the other hand, some scents can be relaxing and calming. Aromatherapy enhances the room’s effect, so you may want to experiment to determine if it’s helpful or not. You can diffuse most oils in the air or apply them to the child's body. By using sharper scents like citrus, you will stimulate and energize. Softer scents like lavender can help relax.
Here are some calming and kid-safe essential oils:
Make the Most of Light
Lighting is also an important aspect when creating the sensory bedroom. Fluorescent lights or strong sunlight can cause stress, so make sure you can control the lighting. Bubble tubes, sensory hexagonal lights, or lava lamps are a great way to aid relaxation, designed to calm the nervous system by providing mild visual stimulation.
In the bedroom, darker is better. Use blackout curtains to block the sun, and add dimmer switches for a slow and easy transition. If your kid hates saying goodnight in total darkness, consider using nightlights.
Choose the Type of Flooring
Test the floor and wait for your child’s sensory inputs. Practicality, the tactile experience, and sound absorption are critical factors when considering the type of flooring. It depends on what your child likes. The laminate floor makes a lot of noise, so choose softer and warmer planks to walk on. Carpets are better for children who prefer soft textures, but be careful when selecting the pattern as it can cause anxiety. Be cautious of hard flooring. Children may fall and crash into it.
Get These Key Items
The following products are must-have items that are proven effective in creating excellent sensory experiences:
- Storage containers—Clutter and mess can be a great source of anxiety. Storage solutions can keep playthings out of sight and eliminate the visual chaos it creates. Ikea offers lightweight plastic boxes which are perfect for storing toys. If your child prefers to have them out in the open, consider a well-designed display bookcase where they can arrange their beloved objects for the best sensory experiences.
- Weighted blankets—Heavy comforters, sleeping bags, or weighted blankets help children experience sensory stimulation due to the extra pressure. These blankets calm a kid’s body for sleep, and the hug-like pressure can make them feel secure. You should also consider your child’s favorite texture. Keep in mind that weighted blankets are prescribed by a professional.
- A cocoon—Cocooning is crucial for relaxation. A bean bag is perfect for kids that like to cuddle something soft. A sensory swing can calm your child and even put them to sleep. Hammocks offer a nest where a child can seek refuge. Pods are a safe space for a retreat or for getting all-over hugs. Floor seating is also important, a place where your child can gather his toys and play.
- A white noise machine—This is helpful when your child’s room is near a busy street or some factors that will keep your kid awake, such as a dog barking. A white noise machine is designed to elicit sleep-specific brain waves that will put your child to sleep.
Creating a sensory space can be overwhelming, especially if you care about your budget and don’t have enough space. There are numerous products you can choose from to achieve your goals without the hassle. These sensory room ideas will help you find the right risk-free option for your child. Make sure to involve your kid in the design process and, in no time, you’ll have the perfect sensory bedroom.