Creating A Sensory Space
Throughout the past few years awareness of sensory needs has increased and therapy centres, schools, and parents are all working to create sensory-friendly spaces or sensory rooms to make everyone feel welcome. Here in Malta the Housing Authority is helping out parents financially through the Sensability Scheme.
Sensory Spaces or rooms refers to an environment where children can find the sensory input they require to self regulate and decompress, alternatively it's a space that lacks overstimulating sensory input. No child is the same and it is therefore of extreme importance that before starting your project, your child's needs are discussed with their Occupational Therapist.
Research on the benefits of Sensory rooms and spaces is ongoing, however so far studies have shown that they help in reducing and managing stress and melt downs, reduce stereotyped behaviour and improve and motivate learning and focus.
Sensory Spaces can be categorized as 'active ' or 'calming' or you can do a combination of the 2 depending on your child's needs.
Active Sensory Spaces
Active spaces or ideal for children that would need more stimulation. This would include equipment which promotes motor activities such as swings, climbing ladders, ball pits and trampolines which aid in giving the child more vestibular and proprioceptive input. These activities will help the child to calm their body down so that they are ready to focus and engage in learning.
Calming Sensory Spaces
Calming Sensory spaces are ideal for children who are over stimulated and need a break from sensory overload. Soft calming music, fibreoptic lights,controlled ambient lighting, weighted blankets and animals, and sensory swings are all examples of equipment that are great to help a child decompress and relax.
Using a sensory space/room should be part of a child's daily routine to help them get the right mix of necessary sensory input.
For further information on the Sensability Scheme please click the link below. Should you require any help or advice in designing the layout of a sensory space or selection of appropriate equipment our inhouse paediatric physiotherapist would be more than willing to discuss your requirements with you and your therapist.