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How to Create an (Inexpensive) Sensory Space in Your Home

By Fraser Sensory Supports and Training Manager Gina Brady and Pam Dewey • sensory space, sensory space DIY, creating a sensory space, home sensory space, sensory items, sensory support, sensory processing, sensory processing difficulties, autism and sensory processing, asd and sensory, sensory space for kids, sensory space adults, sensory space for people with autism • October 20, 2022

People with autism often have sensory processing difficulties. However, an individual doesn’t have to be on the spectrum to have issues with sensory processing. Everyone has likes and dislikes regarding specific types of sensory input. Maybe you like playing with your hair, but can’t stand the way grass feels on your feet.

Sensory differences make things like bright lights, loud noises or specific types of fabric on your skin, unbearable. When exposed to these things, individuals with sensory difficulties may have an overreaction or an emotional withdrawal.

If you have a loved one with sensory processing differences, it can be helpful to create a calming sensory space in your home.

“A sensory space provides a safe haven for an individual with sensory needs. This can be a place to get away from sensations when someone starts to get overwhelmed or to regulate before a challenging sensory task like vacuuming or brushing their teeth. You don’t have to purchase expensive therapy equipment to create a sensory space in your own home,” says Fraser Sensory CertifiedTM Supports and Program Training Manager Gina Brady.

Here are a few easy and inexpensive ways to create a sensory space within your home.


Pick a corner or another quiet area to create a designated sensory space. Start by removing items from the walls. Eliminate other distractions, like T.V., tablets and video games to make the space calming for your loved one to regulate in.

Pick up a paintbrush

Choose paint colors for your space, based on whether your loved one craves stimulation or needs less stimulation. If your child is often overwhelmed by sensory input, paint the area in soft colors like grey, blue or lavender. But if your child suffers from low energy, consider warm tones like yellows, oranges, reds or whites. If painting the wall isn’t an option, hang a tapestry over the wall in a preferred color and pattern.

Get them comfortable seating

Some people with sensory processing differences crave movement, so sitting still is particularly hard. For people who need activity, alternate seating can help them stay focused and regulate. Set up your space with seating options like exercise balls, wiggle cushions, bean bag chairs or a floor cushion.

Adjust the lighting

Lighting can be particularly important. Try adding a lamp or some string lights to your sensory space. Choose lighting according to whether your family member likes lights with cool or warm tones, or want white lights or color. Dimmable lights also allow individuals to adjust the brightness based on what they need each time they use the space.

Eliminate distracting noise

If loud music or other noises are overwhelming, add a set of noise-canceling or noise-reducing headphones to the sensory space. Earplugs are a less expensive option. Some people with sensory differences might also enjoy white noise, which you can access through various apps or a white noise machine, which you can order online.

Create a sensory bin

Sensory bins provide tactile sensory input. You can create a sensory bin with a tub filled with common household items like beans, rice, uncooked pasta, craft glass, beads or kinetic sand. Hide objects or pictures in the container for the fun of discovery. If you hide letters in the container, individuals can spell out a word with the letters they find. Adding small, malleable toys into the bin encourages all kinds of imaginative play. Here’s a link to a video with simple and easy steps to make a sensory bin.

Provide fidgets

Add a couple of your loved one’s favorite fidgets to your sensory space. There are fidget spinners, Pop Its, squishies, monkey noodles and stress balls. Fidget toys help people with sensory processing differences calm down by providing different input, when they feel overwhelmed. Even something like a keychain or a beaded bracelet can work as a fidget, as long as it has some movement that provides a distraction for a person’s hands.

Consider a chewy

A chewy is a piece of jewelry with food-safe beads to chew on. Some with sensory processing differences find chewing helps regulate their bodies. Gum or saltwater taffy also works, says Brady, since both are chewy and provide the same type of satisfying sensory input.

Provide art-making Items

Many art projects provide sensory input. You can include a painting station in your sensory space or provide air-dry clay for a variety of fun projects. You could even have kids create little creatures out of egg cartons, like ladybugs or caterpillars.

Add a weighted item

You may be familiar with weighted blankets, but there are other smaller weighted items like a lap pad or a weighted stuffed animal that provide deep-pressure stimulation, which is soothing. Even carrying a backpack filled with toys can provide this input. Or you can create a weighted item by filling a pillowcase or sock with rice, beans or some other type of small pellet. Remember, the rule of thumb for weighted items is 10% of your body’s weight. For a 50-pound child, that would mean a 5-pound weighted item.

Building a sensory space at home can help your loved one regulate when they’re feeling overwhelmed or are craving a particular type of sensory input. If you’re unsure what kind of sensory items to include in your space, consult with your healthcare professional, like an occupational therapist, pediatrician or doctor.