What is a sensory spot?
A sensory spot is a dedicated space in which the sensory stimuli of an individual can be increased or decreased depending on their needs. Using various sensory room equipment, therapists, and caregivers can help a sensory sensitive child explore different sights, sounds, tastes, textures, and forms of movement in a safe environment. Repeated exposure help improve a child's level of tolerance to the thing they find overwhelming or difficult, which in turns helps them feel more confident in real life situations.
How do I begin to create a sensory spot?
If you're thinking of creating a multi-sensory room at home, here are 5 tips to help you get started:
Consider your child's individual needs. You've probably noticed that most therapeutic clinics include the same sensory room equipment- swings, trampolines, ball pit, etc. - and while your child would probably benefit from each of these, creating a multi-sensory room at home allows you to be more specific in the tools you use. Rather than looking at the sensory room equipment including larger facilities, focus only on the areas your child struggles with and source products and toys for those specific needs.
Find a quiet area in your home. Creating a multi-sensory room at home can be challenging for those who live in tight quarters, and will require a little creativity. Instead of dedicating an entire room to your child's sensory needs, you may need to share space or find a quiet corner in your main living area. You may even consider converting your garage into a therapy gym or installing a portable cabin outside your home. Whatever option you decide to go with, remember to pick an area that is quiet and free of distractions, that's well-ventilated, and that you can darken if needed.
Include a place to calm down. When trying to increase your child's tolerance to certain sensory stimuli, it's important to have a place for them to retreat to when they feel overwhelmed. This could be as simple as placing a bean bag, weighted blanket, noise-canceling headphones, books, or squeeze toys in the corner of your sensory room. If your child needs a darker, more private space, a small room or tent maybe just the option you're looking for!
Develop (and stick to) a routine. It's no secret that children thrive on consistency and routine, and this is especially important for kids with developmental delays like autism and sensory processing disorders. Make it a point to develop a routine for your child to follow while exploring their sensory room, and trying to stick to it as best you can. You want the transition in and out of the sensory room to be as seamless as possible, and consistency is key in making this successful.
Look for cheap(er) alternatives. Don't allow the costs associated with sensory room equipment scare you. Search for second-hand products online, visit garage sales, thrift stores, and don't be afraid to make your own items! Stop aiming for perfection and settle for substitutions wherever possible. Exercise balls offer similar movement benefits as swings, a pile of pillows covered in a blanket is just as effective as an expensive crash mat, and the DIY calm down bottles work just as well as a lava lamp. Use your creativity, get your kids involved (if you can), and keep it fun.
How can I give my child proprioceptive input in their sensory room?
Compression vets are an excellent way to provide proprioceptive input while simultaneously calming a child and allowing them to focus. Many children say the weight of the vest mimics that of a deep hug, which can be extremely helpful for kids with proprioceptive dysfunction. I especially like these weighted vests as they are adjustable and you can change the weight as required as your child grows.
Sensory sacks are one of my favorite sensory room equipment ideas for kids who need calming proprioceptive input because they take up very little room, making them the perfect travel accessory for sensory sensitive kids. These sacks provide deep pressure, resistance, and can calm a variety of different feelings and emotions.
If a squeeze machine is out of your budget and/or you don't have room to accommodate one in your home, this deep pressure foam roller is a fabulous alternative you can also use while you're on the go. Roll it over your child's back, legs, and shoulders to provide deep pressure massage and joint compression when they needs it most.
Perfect for sitting, squishing, catching, stacking, rolling, and balancing. These medicine balls offer a simple way to provide proprioceptive input to the joints and are a fabulous addition to any sensory room.
Whether you have the space in your backyard for a big trampoline, or need a small trampoline to use indoors, providing your child the chance to jump is a great form of proprioceptive input that has the added benefits of burning off energy.
Did you know that a massage is actually helpful for providing proprioceptive input? Use it on a child's joints, on their lap during circle time, or even on their scalp at the end of the day.
Oh My Goodness!! That is about all I can say about this stuff. We are so in love with this slime like putty that we can not contain ourselves. It doesn't dry out. It's thick and not sticky. Best of all, it is perfect for squeezing, pulling, and twisting out your frustrations and need for proprioceptive input!
Proprioceptive input can be simple and super fun to provide even at a young age! Most toddlers and babies will love pounding the balls into the tower and trying again. Melissa & Doug products are durable and sustainable, making them an excellent choice for your children's toys.
Perfect for a calm down spot or for a landing spot for loads of jumping. A crash pad is an amazing way to help your child organize their sensory system and receive tons of proprioceptive input.