How to Create a Sensory Room for Children with Autism

By raluca.olariu@…, 9 April, 2023
pile of assorted toy boxes

Children with autism have unique needs when it comes to sensory input. Some may be overly sensitive, while others may be under-responsive to sensory stimulation.

In both cases, introducing a sensory room into the home of a child with autism can be a powerful and beneficial experience.

A sensory room is specifically designed to meet the needs of individuals on the autism spectrum, and can provide many opportunities for therapeutic activities. From calming colors and textures to fun activities, this type of environment can help children with autism better manage their emotions, improve communication skills, and learn new ways to self-regulate.

In this article, you'll learn:

  • The most common sensory challenges of children with autism
  • What a sensory room is and how it can benefit autistic kids
  • Tips for creating a sensory room that is both calming and engaging

Sensory Challenges of Children with Autism

Children with autism often have difficulty processing sensory input. They may be overly sensitive to certain stimuli like sound, light, and touch or under-responsive to others. These issues can make everyday tasks and activities challenging for them and those around them.

Common examples of sensory challenges for children with autism include:

  • Hyperacusis, which is an increased sensitivity to sound
  • Photophobia, which is a heightened sensitivity to light

  • Tactile defensiveness, which is an aversion to touch and texture

These issues can lead to meltdowns, anxiety, and difficulty focusing. A sensory room can help address these challenges and provide a safe place for children with autism to explore the world around them.

What Is a Sensory Room?

A sensory room is a dedicated space designed to meet the sensory needs of children with autism.

This Tunnel for Kids is perfect to include in a sensory room.

Sensory rooms typically feature calming colors, textures, and materials to help create a soothing environment. They also include stimulating activities like swings, slides, and interactive toys that can provide tactile input and encourage exploration. In a sensory room, items like weighted blankets or pressure vests that help provide deep pressure input for calming are also very common.

Benefits of a Sensory Room

Sensory rooms can help children with autism regulate their emotions, improve communication skills, and learn new ways to self-regulate.

A sensory room also offers an opportunity for exploration, allowing children to have fun while also learning how to process different types of sensory input. The best sensory rooms maintain a balance between a calm and energizing environment.

Creating a Sensory Room for Children with Autism

When creating a sensory room for children with autism, their individual needs and preferences must come first. 

This Therapy Swing can be included in a sensory room to help relieve anxiety symptoms.

A good place to start is by choosing the items you’ll include in the room. This can range from simple objects like bean bags and cushions to more complex items such as bubble tubes or swing sets.

It’s also important to consider the types of sensory input you want to provide. Think about visuals, textures, sounds, smells, and lighting that can help create an environment tailored to your child’s needs.

For example, if your child is sensitive to light, consider installing blackout curtains or putting up a shade in the room. If they are sensitive to sound, use rugs and other soft textures to absorb sound.

Discover this DIY Smart LED Light Kit.

When setting up the sensory room, the main goal is to create an environment where your child can relax and enjoy themselves. Keep the colors and furnishings calming but not boring, and use textures and materials that are safe and comfortable.

Here are some items that you can include in your child's sensory room:

Sensory rooms can feel like sanctuaries for children with autism, especially when they have a range of sensory items to explore. With the right environment, it can help them manage their emotions and learn to process different types of sensory input.


Photo credit: Unsplash.