Sensory rooms or quiet spaces are designated areas where autistic people can use to stim or retreat to when feeling overstimulated. The space itself is designed to aid in a person’s key life skills, chiefly with their communication, coordination, self-organisation and sensory-management. Autistic children often make use of such facilities in their schools, but they can also be outfitted for adults as well.
When used properly, sensory spaces:
- Help to create a safe space away from overstimulation.
- Provide opportunities for engagement in prevention and crisis de-escalation strategies, as well as a host of other therapeutic exchanges (to teach skills, offer a variety of therapeutic activities, etc.).
- Promote self-care, self-nurturance, resilience & recovery.
There’s a common myth that a sensory space is too costly or that it needs a lot of space to function. This is untrue. A sensory space is a setting where autistic individuals can use to calm themselves down in safety. This can be either in a dedicated room or in a particular corner of a room. Many classrooms and workplaces will have designated spaces for autistic users to use when they wish.
Sensory spaces can be easily built and function at top capacity with the right tools and understanding of their users’ needs and preferences. Including such a setting in your school or workplace will show a real commitment to promoting autism inclusion in daily life. When building a sensory space, it’s important to be mindful of a few things, namely:
Instead of installing swings, you can motor stimulation from bouncing on an exercise ball, sitting in a rocking chair, or jumping on a mini trampoline.
You don’t need high-tech lighting equipment to do the trick. You can add a relaxing glow to your sensory space by using some holiday lights, net lights, string lights, battery powered candles, glow sticks, or lava lamps. Lighting is such a powerful thing. It influences us in subtle ways and can change the way we feel. For example, fluorescent overhead lights that emit a cool tone can make us feel uncomfortable. Warm, soft lighting can make us feel relaxed. Don’t be afraid to use lighting to create a relaxing atmosphere and comfy ambience.
PRESSURE & BEING TACTILE
This is especially important for younger children using the space. One cost-effective option is to include as many pillows, blankets and soft toys as possible. Hypersensitive individuals will be able to play with items at a minimal risk of overstimulation; whereas those who’re hyposensitive will also be able to engage.