If you have decided a sensory room would be perfect for your school, play centre or even your home, you now need to know what is needed for a sensory room.
Here we will discuss the types of sensory room equipment and the key details and benefits of sensory play zones.
Quick Recap – What Is a Sensory Room?
Sensory rooms are designated spaces that can be used by young children and those with different types of disabilities. There is even substantial research suggesting that a sensory room can benefit older adults suffering from dementia.
The room or sensory space will include different types of sensory equipment that activates users’ senses. Sight, sound and touch are the three most common types of senses that the sensory room equipment will activate, but there is potential for these spaces to activate smell and taste too.
The concept of a sensory room was developed by the Dutch. Since then, countries around the world – including the UK – have recognised the importance and benefits of exposing young children to sensory rooms.
What Is Sensory Equipment?
Sensory equipment is the individual pieces of equipment that can be used in a sensory room. Some sensory equipment is primarily focused on one sense, such as tactile stimulation products that help young children discover the feeling of different textures. Other sensory equipment items encourage activation of more than one of the senses.
How Many Types of Sensory Equipment Are There?
Below you can find the different categories of sensory equipment. Sometimes a sensory product is multifunctional and can be placed into multiple categories:
1. Sensory Equipment Lighting
Sensory lighting isn’t just different types of coloured lights that can be added to your sensory room. They are play items that have a lighting function as well. For example, fibre optic lights provide different coloured lights to the space, but they also encourage children to touch the strands and activate their sense of touch and sight simultaneously.
2. Interactive Sensory Equipment
Interactive sensory equipment is the type of equipment which encourages more active use and movement than most other items. A sensory room is usually a calm space, but that doesn’t the equipment cannot encourage movement.
Some examples include interactive bubble tubes, mirrors and sophisticated items like the Interactive Rhapsody Panel.
3. Tactile Stimulation Sensory Equipment
As previously mentioned, tactile sensory equipment gives children a safe opportunity to explore the feelings of texture and temperature through their sense of touch. This is especially beneficial to people with sensory disorders. It provides them with a safe space to explore their sense of touch and can transfer to help them in everyday life outside of a sensory room.
4. Early Years Sensory Play Items
Children who use a sensory room tend to be young, but some sensory items are designed for the youngest sensory room users, namely early years sensory equipment.
These are smaller items that young people can play with easily and help them develop. For example, you might find a selection of shapes and numbers that young children can use to get them thinking, counting and improve elementary problem-solving skills.
5. Visual Sensory Equipment
There is usually a crossover between visual sensory equipment and sensory lighting. As lighting can effectively activate our visual senses, there are a lot of lighting products in the visual sensory equipment department.
But not all visual equipment includes lights. Mirrors, liquid floor tiles and UV mats also make up these types of sensory items.
6. Audio Sensory Items
Audio sensory items are much easier to distinguish and categorise than the previous categories. These items include some sort of element that creates sound when handled by the child.
Many of the audio sensory products can be applied to a wall and need to be spun around to create noise. They are a gentle way of introducing people with audio sensory issues to different noises.
Is Anything Else Needed?
You will need a big enough space to accommodate all your sensory equipment without it becoming overcrowded and unsafe. You’ll also need to protect vulnerable users by adding protective equipment. This may include, but is not limited to soft padding, possibly on the walls.
Increasing the safety of participants will make the space more comfortable for the users and might increase their confidence in using the equipment.
What Sensory Equipment Should I Buy?
We get it – that’s a lot to take in at once.
There are plenty of different types of sensory items available to buy. So, how do you know which pieces of equipment to stock in your room?
If you are creating a generic sensory room for multiple users with different needs, it is best to try and accommodate everyone best you can by buying different items from all of the categories listed. How much you can buy will depend on the size of your space too.
However, if you plan on using your sensory room for a specific purpose or population, you should tailor it for their needs.
For example, if you need a sensory room to combat anxiety and give therapeutic benefits, you might skip the overly interactive items and focus on colours, lights and gentle play items.
Additionally, be aware that different light colours can create different moods. You should read more on sensory room lighting choices to make the right decision.
If you are still stuck and need guidance, consider reaching out to our team who offer a bespoke sensory room design service.
What Skills Does a Sensory Room Develop?
If you are already reading about the content of a sensory room, you are probably already aware of the (therapeutic) benefits of sensory rooms to different groups.
But, do you know what skills sensory equipment can develop?
The more interactive sensory equipment can help develop fine motor skill, especially in children with disabilities that prevent them from performing movements as easily (e.g., Dyspraxia). The sensory room is a safe place where children with Dyspraxia can explore movements without feeling added pressures.
But most skills that can be developed from a sensory room are cognitive. Problem-solving skills, imagination, independent thinking and learning to cooperate with others on small tasks are all facilitated within a sensory room. These skills are beneficial to all users.
Learn More About Building Your Sensory Room, Here!
For more information on sensory rooms and how to create them, take a look at our dedicated blog. You’ll find lots of valuable content and answers to common questions with us.