A common question we get is are sensory rooms just for children? If you already know what a sensory room is, you might think these rooms are just for children. And if you haven’t heard of a sensory room or sensory equipment before, as soon as you do, you probably think these are children’s toys.
For the most part, you are absolutely correct. Sensory rooms are predominantly used by children with a wealth of social and cognitive benefits. But, as you will find out here, that is not the complete story.
Sensory Rooms Explained
A sensory room is a space that includes specialised equipment known as sensory equipment. These pieces of play equipment include different materials, colours, lights and sometimes smells.
There are so many advantages of using a sensory room. The benefits of an individual sensory space will be determined by the multi-sensory equipment included and even things like the colour of the lights on sensory toys. Yet, the most common benefits are:
- Relaxing environment to mitigate stress and anxiety
- Therapeutic benefits
- Improved motor skills (especially in children with Dyspraxia)
- Improved problem-solving skills
- Improved communication and social skills
What Is Typical Sensory Room Equipment?
We’ve given you an idea of what sensory equipment may look like, but to get a better idea, here are three types of popular sensory room items:
1. Fibre Optic Strands
These fibre optic strands usually come in lots of colours and sizes. They can engage the child’s visual and touch senses, as well as create an appetite for gentle play and discovery. They are completely safe!
2. Interactive Panelling
Another popular inclusion to sensory rooms is interactive panels. These may activate users’ visual and hearing skills. One example is the Interactive Rhapsody Panel, which includes ten responsive modes for sensory development and games.
3. Ball Pools
And one we probably all remember playing with as a child – a ball pool pit. These provide more active play but introduce young children to the sense of touch and are extremely durable for your long-lasting sensory room.
So Does That Mean Sensory Rooms Are Only for Children?
When you read about the popular sensory toys and items found in one of these rooms, you would automatically believe that these rooms are only used by children. But that is not the case.
Although children are the most common users of sensory rooms, there are many adults that use sensory rooms and obtain amazing benefits.
Adults And Sensory Rooms
Even though you might still enjoy playing in the ball pool, there are specific adults that use sensory rooms. Some of these adults have social difficulties or can suffer from anxiety. This is the case in adults with autism and a sensory room can help them in similar therapeutic ways to the way they help children with autism.
How Can Sensory Rooms Help Dementia Sufferers?
Sensory Rooms are able to help people with dementia in various ways. It is said that dementia sufferers who use a sensory room are likely to experience:
- Less boredom
- Better cooperation with others after sensory room visits (including their carers)
- Increased independence
- Improved levels of alertness
- More physically active
- Reduce worry and anxiety
Is There Any Proof of This?
The understanding that sensory room equipment can help people with dementia is not new. In fact, lots of studies, young and old, have managed to find significant differences in the wellbeing of dementia sufferers before and after using sensory rooms continuously.
One of the initial and most referenced pieces of research on the subject was conducted over a decade ago and published in the British Journal of Clinical Psychology.
The research was carried out by a team of psychologists and mental health experts. They found that a four-week programme using sensory rooms was able to improve the experiences of dementia sufferers in the aforementioned ways.
How Do Sensory Rooms for Adults Differ?
Sensory rooms for adults may or may not differ from what a sensory room for children will look like. If the sensory room for children is made to provide a calming and stress-release function, that room may be identical to a sensory room that is made for adults.
Naturally, some sensory toys might not be relevant for some adults. But much of the equipment can be suitable to all age groups. One of the most important aspects when designing a sensory room is to consider the lighting.
The colours of some lights evoke a therapeutic experience, while others may encourage more movement and play, which may not be the purpose of some sensory rooms for adults with dementia.
To understand this further, read our latest discussion on choosing sensory room colours!
Where Can You Buy Sensory Products for Adults?
You can buy sensory room equipment for adults in the same places you can find sensory room toys for children. As mentioned, the equipment used can be beneficial in these spaces no matter what the audience.
There are limited dedicated businesses in the UK that provide sensory play equipment and have specialist knowledge in this niche of sensory equipment.
Can You Buy Bespoke Sensory Equipment for Adults?
Yes, those specialist sensory room designers and creators can make bespoke sensory room items and spaces. They can take into account your building and needs to create a holistic sensory room design just for you.
House of Play is one of the biggest names in the business. Contact us today for more advice and information!