Thursday, September 02, 2021

What are the Benefits of a Sensory Room?

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Wondering what the benefits of a sensory room are? Well, find out below!

If you've ever wondered what is a sensory room?, then you've probably also wondered why you might want or need one of these types of spaces.

Maybe you've even wondered what they are used for and what the benefits of a sensory room are. Well, that's what will be covered below.

Whether your child has access to one of these rooms at school or you're planning to make one in your home, you'll soon see that the benefits are plentiful. They can help with a wide range of skills and developmental areas. So let's dig in!

The benefits of a sensory room

So What are the Benefits of a Sensory Room for Kids?

While I'll dig into each of these points in more detail below, here are some sensory room benefits to be aware of. They can be used to:

  • Provide sensory stimulation
  • Support emotional well-being and development
  • Provide a safe place to practice coping skills and emotional regulation strategies
  • Improve cognitive development and functioning
  • Encourage socialization
  • Allow for motor skills development and practice

Benefit #1: Sensory Stimulation & Development

Sensory rooms are designed to stimulate the senses and meet your child's sensory needs. Kind of like the name implies, right? 

So really it shouldn't be shocking that one benefit of these types of rooms or spaces is providing sensory stimulation. I mean, you should have seen this one coming...

Anyway, when your child is craving some sensory input, a sensory room can be the perfect place for them to get the stimulation that they crave. It can help them meet their needs. That might mean swinging for a few minutes, listening to music while they jump on a trampoline, or swishing their hands through a bin of colorful oats.

On the flip side, sensory rooms can also help prevent sensory overload or other unpleasant sensory experiences that might lead to meltdowns, shut downs, or even burnout. 

When your child is getting overwhelmed and bombarded by sensory input, they can use these types of rooms to help them cope with and manage all of that incoming information. That might look like dimming the lights, slapping on a pair of ear defenders, or climbing inside a body sock or sensory tunnel.

Either way, a sensory room is the perfect place to manage and activate their senses.

These rooms can also be a safe environment for them to test their reactions to certain types of sensory input or stimuli. For instance, they can be exposed to new, uncomfortable, unfamiliar, and/or difficult sensations. Then they can practice different ways to cope with them.

So to sum up, these rooms can help kids become more aware of their senses and/or give them the sensory input that they need. They also have the ability to prevent or offset sensory overload. And they allow your child to safely try out new sensory experiences.

Benefit #2: Emotional Well-Being & Development

Your child can use a sensory room to build emotional connections, within themselves or with others. 

That might include working through their emotions as they swing. Or it might mean building frustration tolerance skills as they try to climb a climbing wall even though it's really, really tough. It could also mean learning to co-regulate with the help of a partner or adult while they play in a sensory room.

Basically, when a body is well regulated, it's easier to understand and process your emotions. And playing in a sensory room for a bit can help your child regain control of their emotions. That might mean less hitting, pinching, and kicking - finally!

Since these types of spaces are calming, they allow your child to de-stress, de-escalate, unwind...whatever you want to call it. Your child will feel more relaxed and, more importantly, safe when using a room like this. And as discussed above, they'll learn emotional regulation skills. And that leads me to the next point about benefits of a sensory room...

Benefit #3: Teaches Coping Skills

A sensory room is a great place to allow a child to try and practice different coping strategies.

As your child becomes more aware of their senses (see the section on sensory stimulation), they'll start to learn more about what they like and don't like. They might learn what makes them feel better. What makes them feel good. What helps them cope. 

For instance, they might discover that they like deep pressure or dark spaces. Or they might discover that they really like visual input and that they feel calm when they watch glitter slowly falling in a sensory bottle. Or maybe chomping down on a chewy helps them cope when they're feeling anxious. 

As noted, one of the benefits of a sensory room is that it gives kids a chance to discover what works (and what doesn't!) when it comes to self-regulation and coping skills. It's a testing ground for learning what works best for their unique needs.

Benefit #4: Cognitive Development

When a child's senses and emotions are well regulated, they'll see lots of benefits in terms of cognitive development and functioning. They might see increased concentration and improved focus, for instance. As a result, their learning will be enhanced and they'll be able to retain information better.

Think of it this way...when you're upset or overwhelmed by a crowded space, for example, how well can you focus and concentrate? Can you remember everything someone tells you when there's all that extra sensory noise going on? Can you easily learn in an environment like that? I doubt it. The same goes for your child.

Other benefits, in terms of cognitive development, include improving problem solving skills and learning about cause and effect. Which route can I take to climb to the top of this climbing wall? What happens if I crash this scooter board into that block tower? How come I didn't fall off of the balance beam when I stuck my arms out? These are questions your child might ask as they explore in a sensory room.

These types of rooms give them a safe place to practice problem solving skills, try out new ideas to see if they work or not, and more! And it will help them be well-regulated and ready to learn.

Benefit #5: Socialization

Sensory rooms can also be a great way to work on social skills. Those important skills that we use to communicate and interact with others.

Using these rooms gives kids a safe place to practice interacting with others. That interaction might be with a trusted adult such as an occupational therapist or a parent. Or it might be with other kids like a classmate or their best friend.

You can also use these spaces to target specific social skills. Skills such as turn taking, greeting others, waiting, following directions, etc. can be developed through play in a sensory room.

Benefit #6: Motor Skills Development & Practice

Another obvious sensory room benefit has to do with motor skills development. You know, the ability to move your body in specific ways. 

Well, that's what these spaces do. They give your child a place to work on both fine and gross motor skills. That might be cutting spaghetti with scissors in a sensory bin or jumping on a mini trampoline, for instance.

It's clear that sensory rooms are great for physical development. But they're also great for other related skills. Things like spatial orientation, motor planning, hand strength, finger grasp, balance...the list goes on and on!

A list of sensory room benefits

As outlined above, there are lots of benefits of a sensory room. So if you don't already have a space set up, it might be something you want to consider.

Other Useful Resources for Your Sensory Space

What is a Sensory Room? Everything You Need to Know

How to Make a Sensory Room on a Budget

10 DIY Sensory Walls to Make Your Child's Sensory Environment Really Special

What are the benefits of a sensory room?