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Sensory Room Ideas for Children with Autism

Children Playing in a Sensory Room

What is a sensory room?

A sensory room or sensory integration room is designed to provide calm, focus, and comfort to people with sensory processing problems, which often includes people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Children on the spectrum may be hyper-sensitive to harsh lighting, strong odors, and loud music. While sensory issues can vary, there are general aspects that apply to most kids.

Some sensory rooms can be simple and practical, while others can be more elaborate and high-tech. Seeing a sensory room or spaces at PediaPlex can help you come up with sensory room ideas and learn how to build a sensory room at home.


What should be in a sensory room?

Here are some items and products you can include in your very own sensory space. These suggestions are based on the needs of kids with sensory processing disorder.


Weighted blankets

Weighted blankets are heavier blankets designed to provide deep pressure that helps children feel hugged and comforted. These blankets are known to help kids with ASD sleep better. Weighted blankets have different weights for different age groups. 


Tactile pillows

Tactile pillows have a more definite feel and texture than regular pillows. If your child finds textures comforting, they might like tactile pillows as a part of their sensory bedroom. 


Mood Lighting

A small study reveals children with autism experience problems with light sensitivity in their classrooms and have trouble concentrating on their tasks because of it. In the study, they expressed physical discomfort and anxiety from the room’s lighting.

At home, regular lighting like fluorescent lights and bright lamps may not help a child with autism feel calm and ready for sleep. Parents have found sensory lights and sensory lamps like bubble lamps and lava lamps can do wonders for easing their child into sleep and rest.


Neat and Accessible Storage Bins

Children with autism can experience sensory overload, even with their toys and gadgets. Having storage bins that are organized, labeled, and easily accessible can help a child clear his/her space and avoid getting overwhelmed with too much stuff. Storage bins are perfect for children to slide open and close while keeping the contents out of sight, preventing them from getting distracted when they should be doing something else.


Soothing Sounds/Music

Some children on the spectrum like listening to repetitive sounds while others prefer soft music. Whatever your child likes, there are dozens of sensory equipment for creating a sense of calm and peace in the bedroom.

For playing sounds and music, a regular CD player would do. However, there are white noise machines if this is more suited to your child. If your child does not want to hear loud noises coming from outside the home, noise-reduction headphones might help.


Sensory Room Toys

Children with autism take a while to wind down and play after a busy day. While establishing a bedtime routine can help, sometimes all they need is one last “play” time before finally going to bed.

Unlike other toys your child might have, sensory toys are designed to ease tension in children and increase focus and awareness. A weighted stuff animal is great for putting on a child’s lap while reading a bedtime story, while a relaxing fidget toy like the Tactile Tangle Relax makes for a quick, quiet hand activity.


Sensory Walls

A sensory bedroom won’t be complete without wall decorations that help create a calming sensory room. You can use different materials to make pictures or collages and have your child help in the process. While there is lots of commercially available wall decor online, you can DIY and get sensory wall ideas from boards like ours on Pinterest. The goal of a sensory wall is to create comfort and calm for your child.

These days, there is no shortage of information and resources to come up with calming sensory room ideas. Join a Facebook group, talk to other parents, or check Pinterest, and you’ll get lots of insights. What’s important is that you know what your child prefers and how he/she will benefit from a sensory-friendly room.


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