Designing or renovating sensational spaces

Sensory rooms are designated for the use of sensory modulation equipment. These are being increasingly used on inpatient mental health units, schools and for people with intellectual disability and autism. Equipment often includes massage chairs, weighted blankets and calming lighting and videos (Champagne, 2006).In planning a sensory room, consideration should be given to how it will be accessed by those who need it when they are distressed or agitated. Some sensory rooms are locked or require clinician supervision, and this can slow down the time to access it.

Developing sensory zones within the sensory space

Within every environment, whether indoors or outdoors, opportunities exist for sensory modulation or possibly sensory overload. One design solution is to develop a distinct sensory space or zone within the unit, centre, house or school. Even within the one room, there can be smaller zones. There are more ideas for zones than can fit into one space! Spaces can be designed so that people are able to move to the area that suits their unique sensory preferences and needs at the time.

Zones may include the following:

  • ·         exercise zone or gym
  • ·         calm garden zone
  • ·         massage zone
  • ·         low stimulation zone
  • ·         inspiring or creative zone
  • ·         music or auditory zone
  • ·         TV or video zone
  • ·         eating zone
  • ·         socialising zone
  • ·         soothing or comfort zone
  • ·         pet or therapeutic animal zone
  • ·         waking or pacing zone
  • ·         scent exploration zone
  • ·         reading zone
  • ·         icy zone
  • ·         game zone
  • ·         family zone (for visiting parents or children)
  • ·         sensory modulation items zone.

More information is available in the Sensory Modulation Resource Manual ebook. This includes information on how to get started using sensory modulation and a list of sensory equipment items.

A print version will be available soon.

More ideas are available at: