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Sensory Spaces

Parent Provides Tips Regarding How To Establish At-Home Sensory Spots For Children

Through lessons learned by local entrepreneur and self-proclaimed dedicated DIYer Genavieve Shingle Jaffe, other parents can establish beneficial sensory spots within homes, especially for children on the autism spectrum or with ADHD. A sensory spot is basically a safe and quiet place in a home for a child to go when they either want a break from regular activities or need to self-regulate.

"Our son has autism and ADHD, so we designed and built a space in our home and it supports both of our kids," Gena explains.

Sensory spaces are designated areas that provide mindful activities where individuals can expend excessive energy or for the opposite need, simply chill out. School teachers say the benefits of these spaces also help children with anxiety challenges or for getting 5-minute recharges outside classrooms to regain focus. Typically, every part of such rooms is selected intentionally to support specific sensory systems and evolving needs.

Gena reminds these areas don't have to be entire rooms. "It could just be a certain area in a room, a safe corner, or designated space," she explains. 

Following are ideas of items to include in an at-home sensory room/space:

  • Large crash pillows or mats
  • Bean bag chair
  • Body sock
  • A net swing or therapy sensory swing
  • Fidget items that allow for a repetitive moment
  • Weighted blankets or vests
  • Lap pads
  • Tunnel
  • Therapy balls
  • Sensory break cards
  • Books to read
  • A stuffed animal or favorite toy 
  • Calming, alerting and organizing activities for kids 
  • Rock wall
  • Monkey bars

Gena says she's had good luck with ideas and materials for sensory spots from companies such as Project Playroom, Fun + Function and Yogibo.

Steps To Create Sensory Locations

SAFETY: Gena says to first think about safety: No sharp corners, outlet covers in place, cords and other objects that could cause harm if a child is having a particularly bad day. There are times when children may be so upset they throw themselves into things or throw items at other people. This is one of the big benefits of crash pads or bean bags; children can jump and dive onto them seeking that sensory input they require.

LIGHTING: If possible, ensure there are no fluorescent lights in the specific area, Gena suggests. Many times, fluorescent lights can be irritating for children with visual and auditory sensitivities. If there's no option with changing out the lighting, cover the fluorescent lights with heat safe paper to help cut down on the glare, or just don't turn them on. Include soft lighting, such as Christmas lights along the ceiling, or a dim lit lamp. A light table would even be a good option, as long as it won’t present a safety hazard for anyone (when considering a child who tends to hit or throw things).

CONSIDER AGE-FRIENDLY APPROACHES: Construct a rock wall, which is actually easy to install by attaching ¾-inch plywood directly to studs and then drilling the rock holds on top of that. A pod or compression swing provides vestibular input, which oftentimes can provide calm, as well as help individuals learn where their body ends. Some swings come with stands, while others are drilled into ceilings. Find a flat wall and make it into Plexiglas, mirror, paper, chalkboard paint, or whiteboard. Working upright on a vertical surface helps to promote grasp development and encourages visual-motor skills. Play with magnets, wall clings, different adhesives and art mediums for tactile experiences. Body socks can help all ages. 

Email Gena at with questions. 

Sensory modulation rooms may contain massage equipment, lighting that slowly changes colors, bubble tubes, calming scents, music, weighted blankets, bean bags, fidgets and other pieces of equipment designed for calming.