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What is a sensory room?
A multi-sensory environment is a space that is designed to develop and enhance a person’s senses. Those rooms are especially therapeutic and are widely used to help kids and adults with ASD, SPD, and generally people with problems in integrating their senses into their lives.
The design implements special objects, music, lighting, and other furniture that will help with the self-expression of those individuals, their sense of organisation, and overall positively affect their everyday lives.
History of the sensory room
Everything started with two Dutch therapists named Ad Verheul and Jan Hulsegge. Since they worked every day with individuals with all kinds of disabilities, they wanted to create an environment that would stimulate the cognitive and sensory development of their patients in a natural and non-intrusive way. So in time, they came up with “snoezelen” - a mix between the Dutch words for sniffing (snuffelen) and snoozing (doezelen). Those multi-sensory environments spread all across Europe in no time since their effect was almost immediate. The patients reacted positively to the rooms - they were a lot calmer, with better memory, no problems sleeping, and extreme improvement in communication.
Later on, these sensory-stimulating spaces were implemented in regular households, schools, kinder-gardens and day-care centres, continuing to show amazing results.
3 benefits of a sensory room
We scratched the surface of how those spaces help people, but let’s go a bit deeper. There are many benefits to sensory rooms, however, the main ones are the following -
1. Sensory and motor development
Motor and sensory development start at the beginning of our lives, and it needs to be strongly stimulated, no matter if the child has a certain disorder or not. This is a prolonged and gradual process in which the individual gains coordination and good use of both their large and small muscles of the body. The large muscles include the arms, legs and trunk, while the smaller ones are the hands.
The development of those skills involves the analysis of different sensations acquired through interaction with the environment around the individual. Every interaction is experienced through the senses - taste, hearing, smell, sight, proprioception (body position sense) and vestibular input (movement sensations). Through those senses, people discover new objects and process the world around them, creating new neural pathways and strengthening the old ones.
A sensory room is created so that the person inside can fully explore those senses in a stress-free, safe and calm environment. Items like fibre optic lighting, sensory sandboxes, led lights, crash pads, ball pits, wall projectors, etc., are great in stimulating those senses in a way it will be remembered.
2. Calming effects
More sensitive individuals, especially children, can be easily affected by negative situations and interactions, causing them to shut down and be agitated with everything that surrounds them. A calming, dim-lit room can help control those negative emotions and even eliminate them while stimulating their emotional control skills. Items you can include are aroma diffusers, dim string lights, a stereo to play soothing sounds and music, and whatever else you know has calming effects on your loved one. Being surrounded by such an environment will help those people process their emotions properly so that there aren’t any long-lasting negative effects.
3. Better focus
A prevalent problem for kids and adults with developmental disorders is staying focused and not getting distracted with everything happening around them. Sensory rooms specially designed for the individual will help in increasing their awareness of the surrounding environment. This will prepare them for any real-life situations like a workplace or a classroom where concentration is needed.
How to design the best sensory room
Designing any room can be challenging but even more so when there is an important purpose behind it. So for your convenience, we have all the information that will help you get started on designing the best multi-sensory space for your loved one.
What does a sensory room need?
Now, this is something that needs to be tailored to your specific needs. Sensory spaces are built to serve an individual, so it really depends on the person you’re making the room for. Does the person need a calming space to help them process their wild emotions, or they need stimulation to develop their motor skills?
Age is a vital factor, as well as the specific triggers and fears they have. Make sure the room is filled with items that would only bring positive experiences and emotions. Most of the time, a multi-sensory environment is a “time-out” zone that should always be available to the person in need. Set your goals and purpose of the room. Why do you need it? This will help you choose the items and furniture that will be inside to create the optimal space for the person in need.
The good thing about a multi-sensory environment is that it doesn’t have to occupy the whole room, it can just be a small area, depending on the specific needs. Still, an essential rule of thumb is that it needs to be in a quiet area, away from any high-traffic rooms. It’s also advised that these spaces are away from windows so that you can control the type and amount of light that goes through them.
How to decorate a sensory room
So you’ve chosen the perfect location for the sensory space, and it’s time to start with the decorations. Our general advice is to keep it open without unnecessary clutter. This should not be a space for homework, exercises or any other responsibilities. It should be a place to relax and explore oneself. So give them enough area to safely interact with the sensory items in the room without getting distracted. Make sure that you know how everything in the room works so that you can supervise and help if needed.
However, it’s important to remember that a multi-sensory environment is a space for a person to experience the world around them, calmly and safely. This may include no interaction from your side, no matter how hard it might be. If you have a small child or just someone with a severe disorder and you’re worried about leaving them alone, install a baby cam somewhere they can’t reach it and supervise them from there.
Sensory rooms have become a popular option in more homes, and can make a spare room something much more exciting and valuable. If you’re looking for a larger house to create your own sensory room and want to sell your house, get in touch with We Buy Any House today for your free cash offer!