A sensory room is a therapeutic space. These are rooms specially dedicated and designed for experiencing sensory impressions and feels for individuals on the spectrum of autism to feel calm, supported, cared for, and focused. Autism Spectrum disorder is a condition related to brain development that impacts how an individual perceives and socializes with others in various situations which may be common for others but may affect an individual on the spectrum. These individuals have no control over their behavior or in general public behavior, which can also disrupt their daily routine life like school activities, home chores, or day-to-day tasks.
Why Sensory Rooms are required?
Sensory rooms are specially created to achieve a particular environment or ambiance to feel an immersive sensory experience. Individuals with autism have a slower brain development or a different way of perceiving situations, thus their gross motor skills need a little different atmosphere to develop. Individuals with autism require to develop focus, learn to deal with social situations, promote regulation in routine, and much more. Sensory integration occurs naturally for a common person, but for an individual on the autism spectrum, sensory integration demands effort and attention. Sensory integration is important as it provides a foundation for more complex learning and social behavior.
How are Sensory Rooms beneficial?
Sensory rooms provide a safe and calm space for an individual on the autism spectrum. These individuals require an aloof space with sensory experiences in order to calm themselves and perform regular functions. To understand the benefits of a sensory room, we must understand why sensory rooms are required for autistic individuals and what are the symptoms of autism for which sensory rooms are proven to be beneficial.
Symptoms of Autism :
- Delayed language skills.
- Delayed movement skills.
- Delayed cognitive or learning skills.
- Unusual eating and sleeping habits.
- Repetitive behaviors.
- Loss of temper.
- Easily annoyed and irritated by others and also displaying the same behavioral pattern of annoyance and irritability towards others.
- Cranky mood swings.
- Very odd behavioral reaction to general happenings, which are common to others.
Benefits of Sensory Rooms to the individuals or kids on the autism spectrum :
- Increases concentration and focus.
- Increases cognitive development which is required for creativity and developing problem-solving abilities.
- Stimulates senses of hearing, sight, smell, touch, and taste.
- Improves coordination and motor development.
- Helps in developing concepts of cause and effect.
- Helps in developing language and communication skills.
- Promotes social interactions.
- Helps in developing more calmness and lowers aggressive behavior.
- Promotes skills like decision-making and reasoning.
- Promotes good habits like sharing, opening up, and much more.
Few requirements for building a sensory room at school or at home:
Note – These requirements are most suited for children on the autism spectrum.
- A Bubble Wall
A bubble wall is simply a sheet that is inserted vertically and is filled with distilled water, lights, or glitters. One can change colours of the wall using a remote. Bubbles can provide a soothing effect to individuals on the autism spectrum.
- A Swing
A platform swing can be a very good installment with proper soft flooring below to prevent injuries.
- A Trampoline
A trampoline brings out joys and wiggles of life and uplifts the mood immediately.
- Bouncing Balls
Bouncing balls can help in playing and focusing. Different colours and the number of balls can bring consistency.
- A Mirror wall and a Lego wall
A mirror wall is very helpful to get visual feedback while playing. Mirrors can be used to teach new techniques to the kids.
The Lego walls help in developing the fine motor skills of children. The lego bases can be drilled into the wall instead of the floors so that it is more visually attractive. Lego is a therapeutic game according to experts.
- Jump ropes
Jump ropes can help in developing focus. But one must make sure that the flooring is quite soft to prevent injuries.
- Bean bag chairs
Bean bag chairs instead of regular chairs can be a fun element for kids. One can use it for sleeping too.
- Stress Balls
Stress balls can help in relieving stress.
- Yoga mats
Yoga is the best practice to bring calmness, reduce aggravating behavior and bring peace while maintaining health and postures. Yoga is very important for kids on the spectrum. Easy and light exercises can help in calming and developing patience.
- Soft Music equipment
Soft music in the background with the sounds of nature like sounds of water, falling rain, chirping birds, or meditative sounds can help in reducing anger and anxiety. Speakers can be installed in the roo and can be controlled with remotes.
- Sound canceling headphones
Noice/Sound canceling headphones work best to calm down kids while having an anxiety attack.
- A comfortable rug and a heavy blanket
Sleep is the best way to calm down an individual on the autism spectrum.
Few useful tips for building a sensory room at school or at home:
- Use of calming colours.
Instead of using loud colours like red, black, orange, smooth, and calming shades help in an immediate calming feeling. Soft and calming shades of lilacs, greens, blues, greys, whites of warm colours may immediately create an ambiance of calmness and safety,
- Muting the lighting.
Muting or dimming the lighting or placing covers over the lighting fixtures also can help in bringing a sense of calmness into the room.
- Usage of mats or carpets to cover the floors.
Usage of mats or carpets to cover the floors can soften the sounds of surfaces and also help in playing without getting hurt.
- Usage of calming posters and photo frames.
Usage of calming posters and photo frames may help receptive visual sensory organs to bring peace and become calm.