Many children with autism or other neurodivergencies experience sensory processing issues. Often, children react differently to sensory input. Some are understimulated and need more activity, while others get overstimulated and need a space of comfort and safety. It can be difficult to help children to find the level of stimulation that works for them. Many times, anxiety, panic, and meltdowns are possible. Since many children with autism have difficulty articulating their feelings or even realizing they need a break, it’s important to create a safe space for them. Keep reading for some tips on creating a sensory hideout for your child.
What is a Sensory Hideout?
There are many reasons kids need a break. Usually, it’s due to overstimulation in the child’s environment. Children become overwhelmed and need a cozy place to cool down. Sensory hideouts are everywhere in schools, homes, and clinics, but knowing how to create one is important. Many parents and caregivers want to provide exciting sensory areas but quickly become overwhelmed with the number of sensory products.
Find a Quiet Location
There are a few factors to keep in mind when selecting a space to set up a sensory hideout, and depending on the size of your home; you may have limited options. However, many innovative ways exist to incorporate sensory spaces into any home. When deciding where to put your sensory hideout, keep in mind two factors: noise and size. Ideally, a quiet area in the house is more calming, as loud noises are distracting and possibly stressful to the sensory system, leading to overstimulation or dysregulation.
Make it Cozy
Sensory hideouts should feel comfortable and cozy. The goal is to let your child relax, slow their engine, and decompress. Soft blankets and pillows create that environment and provide tactile and proprioceptive input. You don’t have to stop at blankets or pillows, although this is something you likely have at home already. Try incorporating different types of chairs into the space. You will want to focus on seats with rocking motions, swinging, or spinning, as they are all generally calming sensations.
Add Toys and Other Activities
Now that your space is comfortable, you can add some toys and sensory-friendly activities to the hideout. You could include some books about emotions to help your child work through their feelings. You can give them activities like puzzles and games for children struggling with under-stimulation. Try including different fidget toys to help your child relax. Visual stimuli like Christmas lights, flashlights, lava lamps, or spinning light-up toys give them something to focus on and decompress. Be sure to include the types of input that calm your child so as not to wind them up more.
The Connections Therapy Center
The Connections Therapy Center serves families of children and adolescents with disabilities and special needs. We are a team of experts in behavioral sciences. As a team, we offer intensive hands-on therapy for children and adolescents, as well as informative and useful resources for families. If you are interested in learning more about what we can do to help your family, visit us online or give us a call at (301) 577-4333. Want to get more information on how to help your child thrive? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest.