Saturday, 10 August 2013

Creating a Sensory Space at Home

Creating A Sensory Space At Home

at home sensory room

A sensory space is a place where your child can explore, help calm themselves, and to practice important social skills. There are many types of sensory rooms. Some multi-sensory rooms have bright lights, loud sounds, popping colours and fragrances. These rooms are designed to encourage language skills and emotions. Other rooms offer a calming environment, using soothing sounds and soft lighting. Colours and activities in calming rooms are designed to lead to de-escalation of meltdowns. 

Creating a sensory room for your child can be quite simple! Although sensory rooms can cost alot of money, it is possible to create your own sensory room at home for a fraction of the cost!

Tips for starting your sensory area:
  • Choose the space that you will be using. i.e. spare room, corner of a room and if you have not got any extra space, don't worry you can always try a Dark Den!
  • Speak to your O.T. or child's teacher about your child's sensory profile. Some children are very tactile, others love lights and some simply love to lie in the bean bag and chill out. Ask your O.T's opinion on what your child likes at school and what they would recommend. It's good to hear other options that you might not have thought of.
  • Plan your room! Whether your have €30 or €3000 don't worry! Sensory Areas can be started with the smallest light up products to the biggest bubble tubes. As time goes on, add on! There will be plenty of birthdays to add more products to the room!
  • Make sure the area can be darkened i.e. with blackout blinds or a curtain. Dark Dens are already black out!
  • Consider putting in some floor or wall pads or seats and beanbags to make the area nice and comfortable. We also manufacture custom wall and floor padding with anti-bacterial vinyl for rooms that require fitting out!
  • Make sure the room is safe! Do not leave cables and wires or sharp corners exposed. It is always recommended to supervise a child while using a sensory area.
  • Let your child Relax and Enjoy the room. Discover what they like to use in the room. Some children love adult interaction in a sensory room while others prefer their own space and time, whatever they enjoy encourage them to use the sensory space for this reason!                                                                                              
And remember use the sensory room throughout the day to reinforce 'Good Behaviour'. This means let the child use the room throughout the day to prevent sensory overload not to use during aggressive or undesired behaviour. The sensory room is a place to be calm and it is important that to get the most out of the room the child does not see it as a reward for challenging behaviour but as a place to go to retreat to help prevent this from happening.    

Sensory Room Products

Bubble Tubes: Bubble Tubes are the main feature in most large Multi-Sensory Rooms. There is a range of tubes from ball bubbles tubes to a light diffraction totem if a water-free experience is preferred.  A bubble tube may be the most expensive item you can purchase. Our cheapest bubble tube starts at under €100 and that's our Economy Bubble Tube. This tube is a good starter tube for a child you will sit back and look at the colours changing. It can add some great effects to a sensory corner. This tube is not silent like our therapy level bubble tubes and is not made to be pulled at. It is simply for looking! If you are looking for a stronger tube, our Midi Bubble tube is a smaller tube with all the possibilities of a larger tube at a smaller cost! 

For bubble tubes over 1 metre you will need a support bracket to secure it and a plinth can be an added feature to secure the base and give a seating area for your child to sit up close to the tube. BCB additive is also required for water changes that should be done every 3-6 months depending on usage. This is not required for the economy tube as the top could be open, water changes must simply be done more often for this tube but as it is small it is easier. You may want to purchase a bubble tube emptying kit for the larger bubble tubes.

Fibre Optics: Fibre Optics are light that you can touch, capture and feel. There is not cheaper option for fibre optics. Fibre Optics are ideal for people who have difficulty enjoying the normal range of lighting effects and would enjoy some tactile input also.  Partially sighted people may have a different range of abilities and fibre optics can often be more suitable than some other sensory products.  Fibre optics stimulate and hold attention. They are safe to touch and latex free. 

Mirrorballs are a great product to start a sensory room with. They are not too pricey and give some great ceiling effects. For small rooms and corners a small mirror ball bundle will suffice such as a 10-20cm mirror ball and for bigger rooms we recommend a 30cm mirrorball. Mirror balls come with a motor that rotates the ball. We always provide a slower rotator suitable for sensory rooms. There are 2 different coloured pinspots that you can choose for your mirror ball, one with a coloured spotlight that projects only 1 colour at a time and the other with a coloured wheel that rotates through different colours. Some children love watching the colours change whereas others are calmer when only 1 colour is projected. 

If you are on a smaller budget our Mega Disco Bath doubles as a fantastic sensory lightshow and there are alot of visual light up products available online for under €5 online. You can put together a sensory light up box that your child can play with in a dark den.

Projectors: Most Multi-Sensory Rooms in schools have advanced LED projectors with wheel rotators and lots of discs. As fabulous as these projectors are, many parents do not have the budget for these when designing a room at home.  If this is one of the products that you child loves in school and you want to invest in one we recommend going for the Solar 100c, 6 inch wheel rotator and a selection of your child's favourite wheels. This projector is quiet, will suit most sized rooms, ceiling mountable and long lasting. 

However if this is not in your budget, don't worry!!! The lava lamp projector has been used in many home sensory rooms and is very relaxing. Simply pop it on a shelf and insert the oil wheel, as the oil heats up it will project a very relaxing lava lamp effect onto the wall and if you want to go that extra mile you can purchase a graphic pack that you insert in the side of the projector and the oil wheel will move behind the graphics. This can help to grab the child's attention. This projector costs €125 and comes with 1 oil wheel.

Comfort is vital in a sensory room! Choosing the right beanbags or seating can make all the difference for a person spending time in the sensory room. There are many different beanbags available, all different sizes, shapes, inner material, fabric and colours. When deciding which one to go for consider who will be using the beanbag? You may need a vinyl or easy to wipe beanbag or you may want a soft and silky textured beanbag for a tactile experience. Younger kids may be perfectly suited to one of our smaller beanbags or beanie cushions where a larger child might like to lay back in our jumbo or comfort shape beanbag. We have lots to offer!!!

Don't forget, at Adam & Friends we are always here to advise you. If you have any questions or would like advice on putting together a sensory area for your child we are delighted to assist you! Remember you do not need a big budget to start your room. We are adding NEW and exciting products every week so keep a look out to see what's on offer!!! You can contact Gemma & Louise at at any stage! Let us know about your child and what they like and we will recommend some products that they might enjoy!

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