Though difficulty with sensory integration can be a developmental hurdle for those with ASD, a sensory room for an autistic child can help them facilitate communication, engage with sensory skills, and develop motor skills, among many other benefits. For children with autism, living with sensory integration difficulties can affect how experiences and sensations are processed. Still, an ASD sensory room may be able to help and here's how.
Five benefits of a sensory room for autism:
- They help to break down social barriers:
For some children with ASD, overcoming sensory integration difficulties is necessary to stop feelings of aggression and stress and communicate with other kids. In an ASD sensory room, controlled sounds, lights, and sensations help to remove some of the harsh stimulus in the outside world, allowing children to practice sensory engagement and communicate verbally with peers.
- They promote cognitive development through opportunities to boost play skills:
A foundational aspect of the multi-sensory play space is providing objects that can be explored with the senses, which is an important part of all children's cognitive development. In this safe and controlled environment, children with ASD can experiment with cause and effect through exploration and hands-on play.
- They can boost gross and fine motor skills:
Motor skills, or the use of coordinated movements to complete tasks, can sometimes develop more slowly in children with ASD. Many multi-sensory play spaces are equipped with objects and activities intended to help children work on full-body coordination (sometimes called gross motor skills), fine motor skills, proprioception, and hand-eye coordination. This can help them be more adept at physical play and aid their ability to perform basic self-care such as buttoning a shirt or tying a shoe on their own.
- They promote feelings of calm:
The stimulus of a noisy, smelly, crowded, and sometimes uncomfortable world is especially pronounced to many people living with ASD, who may find the unwanted sensory input of day-to-day life quite stressful and agitating. By stripping away all of those unwanted sounds and sensations and replacing them with soothing and pleasant ones, a sensory room for an autistic child can restore calm.
- They help boost underdeveloped senses:
When a child with autism has more trouble processing a specific sense than others, hearing sounds, or touching surfaces, could feel frightening and unpleasant. Multi-sensory play spaces provide a safe place for all the senses to be explored at a child's own pace.
Using multi-sensory spaces
The concept of the multi-sensory environment as a means of treating people living with disabilities was developed significantly in the 1970s by Dutch therapist team Ad Verheul and Jan Hulsegge, gradually growing in popularity throughout Europe and the United Kingdom over the following decades. You can find out more about the history and benefits of multi-sensory rooms on our relevant blog article. Today, multi-sensory play spaces are often used as a part of special education. They are a popular therapy tool for individuals living with a variety of learning differences and disabilities.
Play skills are important for children with autism developing a variety of skills and for social interaction to be encouraged. To find out what the key sensory items for autism are and learn more about different types of autism, please check out our dedicated blog posts on these topics. Or, if you have any questions regarding our sensory equipment, please feel free to contact the friendly team at Experia USA.