Teens face plenty of trials as they approach adulthood. Every day they make choices about their future paths, navigate relationships, and experience new scenarios. These are all essential aspects of being a teen.
Teens with sensory processing disorders (SPD) have another hurdle to deal with. Teens with SPD often have difficulty regulating or even experiencing sensory information. Bright lights, sudden noises, and even the wrong colors add unnecessary stress to a teen’s life.
If your teen has a sensory processing disorder, consider creating a sensory room just for them. Purposefully designed around your teen’s specific needs and wishes, these rooms are perfect for those with SPD.
Sensory rooms bring calm and comfort to many teens. From calming colors to hand-selected lighting features, make this project one for you and your teen to remember. Here are four ideas for building a sensory room with (and for) your teen.
Boost Comfort With Couches, Cushions, and More
Comfortable surroundings provide great deterrents to overstimulation. As a special room filled with their favorite comforting features, a sensory room is an ultimate comfort destination.
To enhance this, you and your teen should fill it with comfortable couches, cushions, and beanbag chairs. Soft surfaces surround the body and provide fully-supported comfort. This helps calm those experiencing sensory issues.
Likewise, soft surfaces are safe and teen-friendly if they become over-excited.
Other comfort options include:
- Convertible couches for day and night use.
- Crash mats for yoga, exercise, or simply as another comfortable surface.
- Favorite weighted blankets or pillows for extra comfort during bad days.
As one of your teen’s major safe spaces, their sensory room should reflect a sense of solace. Thus, soft pillows and lounging couches provide comfort for days.
Sensory-Minded Colors and Decor
Another important idea for a sensory room is to use appropriate colors, designs, and decor.
Often, bright and bold colors cause anxiety or other forms of discomfort in teens with SPD. Likewise, complex designs and images might also trigger sensory issues. To avoid this, paint and design the room following neutral or soothing colors.
Optimal colors for sensory rooms include:
- Cool colors on the blue spectrum, including blue, indigo, and purple.
- Earth tones such as green, brown, and gray.
- Soft pastels like pink, light greens, and soft yellows.
Follow your teen’s favorite colors, but ensure the colors stay within the safe sensory spectrum. With other decorations, like curtains or wall hangings, follow the same rules. Focus on pleasing colors, gentle patterns, and soothing images.
Once you finalize the room’s paint and decor choices, convert one of the walls into a vertical surface.
Working on vertical surfaces helps improve creativity and focus. As well, it enhances many motor skills, both fine and gross. An easy way to achieve this is with chalkboard paint.
Chalkboard paint is easy to use. With a quick application, your teen has an entire wall for art, writing, notes, or simply having fun. Chalk art and writing are soothing to many children. Plus, it allows your teen to express their artistic sides in a safe space.
Other ideas for a workable vertical surface include:
- Whiteboards for the same benefits as chalkboards, without the texture and mess of chalk.
- Plexiglass walls for a fun, clear whiteboard effect.
- Illuminated wall panels with different tactile, visual, and even audio outputs.
If your teen is already an artist, gear the vertical wall to their existing talents. Create a painting corner made from easy-to-clean tile. Or, perhaps they love to sing. A soundproof recording box provides comfort and a safe space for artistic expression.
Illuminating the Room
A room changes characteristics and feel based on its lighting. Light position, color, and intensity all influence the feeling of a space. Teens with SPD often struggle with bright lights. Because of this, the lighting of a sensory room is crucial.
Sensory lighting comes in many shapes and forms. Different teens will need different styles of lights based on their sensory needs. For example;
- Lava lamps are an old favorite. The slow-moving bubbles and soft glow provide comforting illumination.
- Bubble tube lights are engaging, creating pleasing visual stimuli that help teens focus.
- Fiber optic lights come in curtains, fountains, and more. They are soft to the touch and create a soothing, pulsating glow without any harsh brightness.
Soothing sensory lights create a comforting environment. They actively help prevent meltdowns, overstimulation, and other negative feelings. Bubbles, pulses, and other soft movements fixate a person’s attention, thus causing their sensory issues to ebb away.
Conversely, avoid bright lights with cool lighting, which often overstimulates people with SPD. Also, not every teen is the same. If possible, test these fixtures with your teen before installation. While sensory lights are suitable for most, some may cause overstimulation in certain children.
As with all forms of decoration, don’t overdo it. Abundant choices or even a room full of items are common triggers in those with SPD. Stay simple and close to your teen’s favorites. With a focus on your teen’s comfort, their sensory room will soon become one of their favorite places.
Creating a sensory room with your teen is an empowering task. Not only does it make a room devoted to them, but it also gives them a healthy dose of control over their immediate lives. This self-authority is a vital confidence builder for teens and kids with SPD or other disabilities.
Creating a sensory room with your teen teaches important skills. Responsibility, self-reflection, and design are just a few lessons that they will pick up. And with your teen soon to leave the house, such life skills and lessons are of the utmost importance.
Are you struggling with a teen or young adult — possibly that is failing to launch or with sensory processing disorder? Learn more about the benefits of residential treatment for your teenager — for instilling social skills, life skills and more. Contact us for a free consultation.