Sensory Room on a Budget
Creating a cost-efficient sensory room can easily be done when you do your research and know what products are worth buying and will actually make a difference to your kids’ life and development. Unfortunately, many families with loved ones who would benefit from access to a sensory room often don’t feel they have the necessary funds or space to create one. In short for those unaware, a sensory space or room is a special area which combines a range of stimuli to help individuals develop and engage appropriately in their senses. These can include colours, lights, sounds, sensory objects all within a safe environment that often helps kids to regulate and feel calm.
However, the point I want to make today is that you don’t need huge funds or endless space to create a budget friendly sensory place. Here are some tips that I hope will help you out!
- Consider what your kid needs
Every child is wonderfully different and unique and like anything else have different desires and needs therefore the first step in creating a sensory room or space is think about the kid who will actually be using it. The sensory space should meet their particular needs so take note of some of the toys they seek comfort in that might be therapy items ad sensory activities your kiddo enjoys for example does your kid find theraputty or play-doh therapeutic? Does your kid find slow moving lights and noise soothing? Does your kid enjoy playing with fidgets and squishy toys? Does your kids find weight e.g. blankets or vests regulating? Include what your kid already finds beneficial in the sensory space. Speak to your kids therapist if they have one on what your kid likes working on in therapy sessions.
- Finding the right space
I don’t always like the term ‘sensory room’ as it can be misleading. In order to create an efficient and appropriate sensory space often does not involve including an entire room. Most families do not have an entire room in their home in which they can adapt into a sensory room and that’s okay. Smaller sensory areas can be just as effective as bigger ones. I would recommend thinking about any quiet space you do have whether that be a corner in a bedroom or sitting room or playroom. Think about how you can utilise this area and make it individualised for your child. Can you make space if there isn’t already obvious room by moving furniture etc? Maybe there is a wardrobe or furniture you are not using that could be moved to make space for a sensory area? Another idea is to make a sensory tent where your kid has lots of privacy in their sensory space.
- Check out some funding options
Sensory equipment is expensive we all know that but instead of purchasing brand new equipment or products why not do some research online for second hand equipment or charities that might have some more reasonably priced products. In addition, sensory rooms don’t always need to include expensive sensory equipment. Websites like Amazon and eBay often have much cheaper sensory products like sensory lights and toys compared to other websites, it pays to do some research and compare prices.
Always remember, building a sensory room is a process. Rome was not built in a day nor should your sensory room. Take your time and enjoy the process, add more along the way especially when you start getting a better idea of what your child might enjoy in a sensory room. There is no need to rush it as starting small will allow the sensory space you create to evolve with your kids needs.
- Recommendations for a sensory space
As I have said above all kids are different and all require different inputs to meet their individual needs but here are some recommendations that I think really add to a sensory space.
Firstly, I love the idea of a dark space, this can be a room with dark blinds so little sunlight or a dark tent. Sensory lights work well with dark spaces and can be very regulating and soothing for a kid. Lights can come in the form of a bubble tube or fiber optic sensory lighting which is polymer strands that change colour as they light up, these can be used for relaxation, visual and tactile stimulation. Cheaper sensory lights include sensory eggs, disco lights and globes.
I also like to include some comfortable seating in the form of a big squishy bean bag! Kids need to be comfortable in a sensory area to feel completely relaxed and at ease. Bean bags can give input and can be so snug to sit or lie in! I also love a cloud chair which includes vibration combined with music for extra soothing and comfort.
I think if you have a big space in particular, make sure that it is lined with crash mats. Firstly for safety as kids often like to roll and tumble as they please. Also its beneficial to include a variety of textures on the floor including a rice path, grass flooring etc.
Fidget toys are also great in sensory rooms as they provide regulation for those sensory seekers.
If you have extra space ball pools are amazing for tactile, visual, auditory and proprioceptive feedback to help build confidence and strengthen sensory motor skills.
Thanks so much for reading, please leave some comments about sensory spaces below!