Creating Sensory Sensitive Spaces

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By Dominique Mickiewicz

What is Sensory Sensitivity?

Sensory sensitivity refers to the difficulty an individual has when processing and responding to information received by the senses. Heightened during childhood, children who are oversensitive can be overwhelmed by the plethora of colors, sounds and materials present in their environment. This overload of the senses can result in rashes when touched, panic and screaming when surrounded by loud sounds and disorientation around bright colors and prints.

Sensory Integration Strategies

Sensory integration involves exposing individuals to sensory stimulation in a structured way that helps the brain organize information without becoming overwhelmed. It is easy to make some simple adjustments to your home to cater to sensory sensitive individuals and promote happiness and inclusivity:

  • Decreasing Visual Clutter – Minimizing the amount of toys and objects scattered around a room helps decrease visual distraction and improve focus. Adding lots of cabinets, bookcases and bins helps to ensure that everything has a place and stays organized. Keeping floors clean and desks knickknacks- and paper-free helps keep a space from being overwhelming and cluttered.
  • Utilizing Furniture with Movement – Incorporating furniture that moves such as rocking chairs or desks with wheels helps individuals mindlessly fidget while actually increasing their focus.
  • Mixing in Muted Colors – Choosing furniture with muted hues maintains a cheerful mood without overpowering the senses. Avoid bright colors and prints on walls and decor, which can often be very disorienting. Additionally, installing switches that can adjust the brightness of lights can create a soothing effect and appeal directly to an individual’s’ mood/tolerance level.
  • Recognizing the Importance of Touch – Certain products and fabrics can be coarse and rough causing irritation and rashes to those with sensitive skin. With the overall goal of a home to provide comfort and warmth, choosing decor that is soft to the touch while avoiding rough textures allows everyone to enjoy a space with ease. Innovative products such as weighted blankets provide calming security and new “cocoon chairs” stimulate the warmth of a hug.

From dimming the lights to choosing softer fabrics, simple switches can easily create a more sensory friendly home.

Dominique Mickiewicz is a Prince William County native and student at Wellesley College in Wellesley, Mass. An avid reader with an even greater love for writing, she is the First Place winner of the 2018 VHSL Multimedia Contest for Prose Spread. She is currently a writer and Production Director for the Wellesley Globalist, an international affairs publication, and a Prose Editor for the Wellesley Review Literary Magazine

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