Everyone needs a space they can call their own, and that’s especially true for children with developmental needs such as Autism or ADHD, where overstimulation can be very upsetting. They need somewhere that can act as a sanctuary for them, a place that is tailored to their individual needs.
Sleep issues are extremely common in children with special needs, but it’s believed that every child can benefit from the sensory sensitive approach when designing their bedroom and personal spaces, particularly if you have a child who has difficulty settling down at night or staying asleep. A sensory friendly bedroom can help them self soothe and create a more relaxing bedtime experience.
The sensory friendly approach is traditionally used when designing spaces for children with developmental needs such as Autism or ADHD. It is designed to consider all of the senses: sight, sound, touch, smell and taste; so all design aspects are fully thought out from colours and light to sound and materials.
While every child is different, we have created a guide with some tips to consider when designing a sensory sensitive bedroom.
Colour choices are important to any sensory friendly bedroom design. Bold colours and busy patterns should be avoided to reduce overstimulating senses. Schemes should consist of neutrals, pastels and earthy tones to create a relaxing space.
Neutral colours such as creams, greys and beige are perfect choices for a considered sensory friendly room. Not only are they super versatile but they aren’t distracting and can have a calming effect on emotions. We recommend Maybe Maggie, Nellie and Crocky Road. White should be avoided in a sensory space as this can appear too bright, cold and overwhelming in certain lights.
Pastel pinks and lilacs, such as Cupcake and Lily Lily Rose, help to create a calm and tranquil space that envelopes your little one. Pastel greens and blues are soothing and cause less stimulation of the senses compared to other colours, if this is your preferred style consider using colours like Fiddlesticks or Bo Peep in your scheme.
Carefully consider all light sources in the bedroom and how these can be controlled throughout the day and night.
Where possible maximize natural daylight in the room, but frame windows with light sheer curtains that disperse the light into the room and consider blackout options for night time.
Consider a dimmer functionality to ceiling lights and lamps to fully adjust the light in the room. Sensory friendly lights such as bubble tubes and fibre optic lamps should also be considered offering a fun and interactive alternative to standard lights.
Clutter can be a trigger for almost anyone. To make your child’s room inviting try to keep the space simple and clutter free to avoid it being overwhelming.
If possible, give everything its own area or space – using tubs or baskets to store toys can help keep clutter accumulating so it not only helps you keep on top of cleaning but let’s your child easily find their favourite toys…win win!
Breathable, soft fabrics are best for bedding. Weighted blankets can also be helpful for some children as the extra pressure is naturally calming.
Think about the colours of the bedding too, choosing ones that will be compliment the soft colour scheme on your walls. Avoid bedding with zany patterns or in colours of reds, oranges and yellows as these can be overstimulating.
Children like to have soft spots to relax and play in. Bean bags offer a comfortable seat for younger children, but did you know they also double up as sensory furniture? Add a microbead filled beanbag to your child’s room to help provide sensory therapy through touch and sound.
Be sure to add lots of soft textures through rugs and cushions. There are no rules on what fabric works best however, plush tends to be a very popular choice in sensory sensitive designs.
If your child finds certain smells overwhelming, make sure the room doesn’t have any strong scents or odours. This could be as simple as switching to unscented cleaning products and removing air fresheners.
It’s also something to consider if you are redecorating the bedroom, as many paints can emit strong smells which are harmful to the environment, as well as your child’s health and can be very overwhelming from a sensory perspective. These smells can last weeks and sometimes months for people with sensitive noses. Our paint is made from environmentally friendly ingredients with no added VOC’s meaning they have no nasties and are fume free.
To create a sensory sensitive bedroom or nursery, create a calming, neutral space free from bold colours, lights and clutter that can be overwhelming. You’ll also find this an enjoyable, relaxing space to spend time with your child in.
Check out our colours to help you choose something neutral and calming for your sensory friendly bedroom.