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Benefits Of A Sensory Room

Written by on . Posted in Sensory Rooms
Benefits Of A Sensory Room

What Is a Sensory Room?

A sensory room is a specially designed room which combines a range of stimuli to help individuals develop and engage their senses. These can include lights, colours, sounds, sensory soft play resources and aromas, all used within a safe environment that allows the person using it to explore and interact without risk. 

There are many benefits of a sensory room for those who have learning difficulties, developmental disabilities or sensory processing impairments, helping them learn to interact with the world around them in a safe environment that builds up their confidence and their ability. The user gets an unrestrained, non-threatening space where they can explore at their own leisure, and this freedom lets their teacher, therapist or carer see what calms them, rouses them and what they do or don’t like.

Benefits of a Sensory Room

There are a whole host of benefits of a sensory room for those who require them. Some of these include:

  1. Sensory stimulation

Encouraging the user to engage with and explore the environment can have positive effects on their ability to understand, react and interact with the larger world around them.

  1. Enhance learning through play

Sensory rooms for children should be designed with learning and fun in mind. Sensory play helps children to develop their senses, encourages problem-solving and can build nerve connections in the brain. This is a great benefit of a sensory room as it engages different areas of the brain, helping children absorb and retain more information. 

  1. Improve balance, movement and spatial orientation

Sensory rooms can help develop users’ visual processing abilities as well as their fine and gross motor skills, facilitating day-to-day living. This is particularly beneficial for individuals with physical difficulties or cerebral palsy

  1. Develop communication skills

For some individuals, particularly those with autism spectrum disorder, both verbal and non-verbal communication is a challenge. Interactive sensory rooms can help to engage withdrawn individuals, and auditory sensory equipment can be especially helpful in encouraging vocalisation. 

  1. De-stress

Sensory environments can be highly absorbing, providing a moment of comfort and calm for overactive and distressed individuals. Similarly, the safe and controlled nature of a sensory room can benefits withdrawn individuals feel comfortable enough to interact with their surroundings. 

  1. Improve focus

Some individuals find it difficult to focus. In fact, this is a common trait for those with ADHD, who may struggle to regulate their focus. Sensory equipment is designed to help users concentrate on the activity in hand and, what’s more, the atmosphere of a well-designed sensory room should help to enhance focus. This is an important skill for children to develop so they can cope with real-world environments where calm and concentration is key. 

  1. Promote socialisation

A great benefit of sensory rooms is that they can be used by individuals or in groups. Using a sensory room with others can help to promote socialisation skills in a safe, calm and stress-free environment. If you’re designing a sensory room in a school or care home, for example, it’s great to consider how you can cater to the needs of a group and encourage interaction between users. Group sensory rooms can also help users understand cause-and-effect, for example how their decisions or movements may affect others.  

What to Consider in Your Sensory Room

To make sure users get the most beneficial sensory room,  experience, research and careful planning need to go into the design of the space. 

  • Objectives

When designing your sensory room, you need to think about the room’s objectives. Namely, who is going to be using the room and what challenges does the room need to support them with? Creating a sensory room for a group of children with different learning or developmental difficulties will look different to a sensory room for an older adult with Alzheimer’s

Once you’ve established your objectives, you can start researching the best sensory products for your room.

  • Location

Next, you need to think about location. Whether you are in a school or another learning environment, if the sensory room is at home, or in a nursing home, the location of a sensory room is key. 

The ideal space will have no windows so that you can control the lighting artificially. A sensory room can still be created if a window is present, but all efforts to reduce any external light should be made – blackout curtains or black paper over the windows can help create an effective and beneficial sensory room. 

  • Noise

A sensory room will also be most useful in a quiet space – for example, if the sensory space is a school, it’s good to have it distanced from the playground if possible to create a calming space. An overload of external noises can cause distress and distraction while detracting from the benefits that a sensory room has to offer. 

  • Accessibility

Accessibility is extremely important and must be taken into account when planning out your room, otherwise you risk excluding people who could benefit from the sensory space. For example, if your sensory room is above the ground floor, is there a working lift to get to it? Can the environment be amended to suit different disabilities? 

  • Logistics

You also need to think about the logistics of your sensory room. This means things like whether or not the room is large enough to accommodate your estimated number of users, if there are enough plug sockets for all of the sensory equipment and if you can cordon off areas of the room to give users privacy if it’s needed. 

  • Budget

When you create a sensory room, you need to consider what your budget is – when you work with Experia, we offer a free sensory room design service that allows you to see what potential your space has and what you can do within a budget you set. We’ve set out some ideas for creating a sensory room on a budget on our blog, as well as ways to raise funding.

For more information on aspects of a space and elements that need to be considered before creating your sensory room, please check out our blog post dedicated to sensory room design.

What Is a Sensory Room Used For?

Sensory rooms can come in many different forms to suit the users’ needs. For example, sensory bathrooms are extremely beneficial for users who find bath time very stressful, often seen with those who have dementia or emotional and behavioural difficulties, while dark rooms are more beneficial for those with visual impairments. Both types of sensory rooms feature different products that are helpful to those who will be predominantly using the space.

Here are some ways you can make both calming and interactive sensory rooms as user-friendly and suitable as possible.

Calming sensory room

A calming sensory room is beneficial for individuals who are hypersensitive to sensory information. This environment can encourage relaxation and calm through a variety of sensory products, and can even be helpful in working down from a meltdown.

For example, sensory bubble tubes are soothing to watch with their mesmerising movement and changes in soft colours. At the same time, these tubes stimulate visual development and communication skills. Wall mirrors can then be used to give the illusion of multiple tubes.

Additionally, you can introduce soothing sounds, which also promote sensory development. Projectors are good for providing relaxing visuals while adding interest to the room. These visuals can be changed with a variety of effect wheels

The key is to create a space that is stimulating while maintaining a sense of soothing and de-stressing. 

Interactive sensory room

Some individuals experience reduced sensitivity to sensory information and might react more positively to an interactive and stimulating sensory room. 

An interactive floor system allows individuals to interact with the images using movement. With a range of games available, such as ‘Scatter the Stars’, and an option to create your own scenarios, there is something fun for everyone. The superactive LED fibre optic bundle is another great choice for interactive rooms, as it allows individuals to work on their interaction skills through cause and effect and colour recognition. Wall panels can also be a great asset to a sensory room; there is a large variety of different interactive wall panels, from an interactive LED Ladderlite to a Musical Touchwall

Creating a Sensory Room at Home

If you have a neurodivergent or disabled family member, you might be interested in creating a sensory room at home. You could turn a spare room or guest room into a sensory haven, or create a sensory space in a bedroom, bathroom or lounge.

The exciting thing about creating a sensory room at home is that you can tailor it to the specifications of the user or users, and in doing so create a safe space for your disabled loved one. There are many benefits to sensory rooms in the home, including developing and maintaining core skills, improving mood and self-esteem and allowing your loved one to explore their environment in a safe and engaging way.

If you don’t have the space (or budget) to dedicate to an entire sensory room at home, a sensory corner is a fantastic option to include some sensory equipment in a user’s daily life. Simply set up a few products in a corner and consider using a curtain or other screen to cordon it off, so the boundary is clearly defined.

We hope you now have a solid understanding of the benefits of a sensory room, which type of sensory room would work best for you and how to use a sensory room effectively. 

At Experia, we pride ourselves on having the knowledge and experience to know what sensory solutions will work for each user, the abilities they have and the skills you’re aiming to help them develop. If you’d like to discuss your sensory needs further, please contact us today and we’ll be happy to help. We offer free room design and can help you navigate the sensory room planning process. 

You can also explore our case studies and the rest of our blog to learn more about effective sensory solutions.