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Affordable sensory room ideas aren’t out of the question. Even if you’re a parent who has a child on the autism spectrum! If you are an autism parent, you are well aware that the treatment is far from cheap. But, you also know the importance of making sure therapy goes beyond your in-home or center therapy. You know that in order to help your child with autism, you must implement ideas at home.
When our youngest was diagnosed with autistic disorder we were complete newbies. Autism was not something either one of us was familiar with. Sure, he was attending therapy three times a week months prior to his diagnosis. But, the term autism was only brought up once. That was when we received the referral to the local developmental pediatrician.
The day he received his autism diagnosis, we were bombarded with information. The pediatrician seemed extremely apologetic about throwing so much information at us at once. I guess the desperate looks on our face said it all. Regardless, we were blessed with this situation. So, we were going to make the best of it. Stating with making sure our boy was as comfortable as he could be in his own home.
After hours of research and one-on-one time with Master Google, we discovered two important points. The first, autism is very expensive. Second, there are quite a bit of home modifications you can make. Which can also be very expensive. When you’re already drowning in autism medical debt, more expenses almost make you want to puke. But, since we know this is something that must be done, we are beginning the process.
Step 1: Finding Affordable Sensory Room Ideas
So, our son likes to spend quite a bit of time in his room. That’s why we decided to focus on where he spends the most time when it came to deciding which home modifications to do first. We noticed a lot of the sensory room ideas available weren’t too affordable. Which was out of the question due to our one income household.
Since I deem myself our homes “Queen of Cheap”, I knew I could find affordable sensory room ideas. The goal here was to have affordable sensory room ideas available to present to my husband that wouldn’t make him cry or leave me. While we aren’t done with his room, so far all my ideas have been acceptable with a smile. I guess, so far, so good.
During my extensive search, I prowled Google and, of course, Pinterest. As well as various groups and hashtags on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. As well as dipped into online shops dedicated specifically to handling sensory processing disorders.
At the end of the day, my search ended with Google and Amazon being my best options for affordable sensory room ideas. Pinterest also offered a ton of information in regards to DIY ideas for a sensory room.
I’m not crafty. So, I have to back away from Pinterest. But, I’m still going to include some links to some handy projects. If you, or your significant other, are crafty you may find some great affordable sensory room ideas!
Affordable Sensory Room Ideas that Won’t Leave You Crying
I have a small disclaimer to give you before I show you some of our top picks for affordable sensory room ideas. Always remember, when you meet one autistic person, you meet one autistic person. What may work for one person, may not work for the next.
So, these ideas are aimed more towards the personality of our 3-year-old son who was diagnosed with autism 6 months ago. He has also been receiving special instruction, occupational, and speech therapy on a weekly basis since his first birthday.
Swinging is one of our son’s favorite activities. It is also something he does great with during therapy. We knew this was something we really wanted to add to his room. We aren’t working with much room though. That was something we also had to take into consideration when purchasing a swing.
Swings are pretty expensive. We found a swing on Amazon that was the cheapest price with the best ratings. As well as a sturdy and nice design. This super cute foldable pod swing from HappyPie.
We really love it because of the dogs. Some kids on the autism spectrum can’t handle loud patterns like this though. There are other affordable sensory room ideas involving swings that are not as loud as this one from HappyPie.
The next must-have on our affordable sensory room ideas list is a crash pad. We plan on placing the crash pad under the swing. For safety reason and therapy reasons. “Crashing” into things is one way our son “calms” himself during one of his not so happy times. This often results in bruises, scrapes, and uncontrollable crying due to self-inflicted pain.
His occupational therapist has often recommended a crash pad. She says he uses the ones at the center well when he isn’t happy with a decision. Since he does the same at home, we believe a crash pad will be a safer alternative to, well, the wall our window sill.
There are a ton of great DIY crash pad tutorials. I’ll link them below.
If you’re looking for an affordable crash pad, a great place to start is Etsy. There are a ton of handmade sellers on there that make high-quality crash pads. They are also much cheaper than what you will find in a store or through an online retailer.
Sensory Friendly Lighting
Since the day of his diagnosis, our specialist, therapist, and pediatrician have stressed the importance of sensory friendly lighting in the home. Of course, we want to make sure he also has it in the place he’ll spend his time, his room.
The first thing we are focusing on is the window coverings. While daylight is great, too much direct sunlight can leave our son quite upset. We want to ensure that we have just enough coverage that still encourages a bit of sunlight.
As many parents who have children on the autism spectrum know, children with autism don’t sleep well or hardly at all. A little sunlight has been known to show benefits to people who suffer from sleep disorders.
In the end, we decided to go with blackout curtains. It seems as if these are the best choice when it comes to ensuring our son gets a good night’s rest.
We nixed the whole idea of blinds. He doesn’t do well with them.
You can get a great pair of YOJA Blackout Curtains from Amazon at an affordable price.
Due to space and budget, we’re integrating his sensory area with his bedroom. This may not be the ideal situation for everyone. Especially if your child has a really hard time going to sleep at night. If that’s the case, I’m not sure how well mixing your sensory area and bedroom together would do. Sometimes children with severe sleeping problems need a dedicated space for just sleep.
We will also be adding lights that are able to be dimmed. He’s very sensitive to bright lights and being able to dim the room lights is a must.
Now, paint isn’t always an inexpensive option. Honestly, though, I’ve found the right prep work (sanding, cleaning, etc.) even some cheap paint can do an outstanding job. As long as you’re willing to put in the work.
When you think of your child’s therapy you more than likely think of bright colors. This is probably due to the bright gym mats you see everywhere. Maybe it’s due to the bright toys they use for sensory play. While these are great options, we’ve decided on neutral-friendly colors for paint.
The main reason behind this is because we are combining his sensory area with his bedroom. Bright walls are not going to result in a sleep-friendly environment. So, we’ve decided to stick with paint that leaves our little one feeling more on the calm and comfortable side.
We’re juggling back and forth between a cool blue color or khaki-ish gray tone. I call that the “Gap” tone. 😉
More Affordable Sensory Room Ideas
Since our sensory room is still in the planning/construction phase, we still have more options we’d like to add. Of course, all of these options need to fit in nicely with our affordable sensory room ideas.
Having a ball pit is something we really want to add to his room. He really enjoys ball pit time during therapy and anywhere we go that has a ball pit. But, since that will take up a bit of room, we are bouncing back and forth between the idea.
If you for sure have the room, adding a ball pit is actually a great addition to our affordable sensory room ideas. There’s plenty of great options like plastic pools and DIY PVC ball pits. (I’ll have some examples below.)
Since sensory integration is a huge part of our dude’s therapy, we’d love to have a wall in his room turned into a sensory wall. We want to add mirrors, different textures, and things like that.
He really enjoys the bead mazes you often see in pediatricians offices. I’d love to add that to his wall, too.
We’re working on him a lot with his balance. Therapy has recommended different texture and heights at home to help with his overall balance/coordination. Since we do not have any stairs and steps in the home, we’d like to find another way to add this.
One thing I’ve found, that I believe would be helpful, are the balance pods people often use during workouts. They also make river stones specifically for kids to use that offer different heights and textures for them to experience.
You can get a set of 6 balance pods on Amazon for about $25. Considering it may cost almost $20 for just two balance pods, this is a great deal.
DIY Affordable Sensory Room Ideas
If you are crafty, I did a little favor for you and rounded up some amazing ideas I found on Pinterest. (If you read above, I try to shy away from Pinterest due to my lack of crafty-ness. But, for ya’ll, I’ll do it.)
- And Next Come L’s DIY No Sew Crash Mat
- Teach Me Mommy’s DIY Indoor Swing and Crash Pad
- And Next Come L’s Homemade Stretchy Sensory Sheet
- The Northwest Momma’s DIY PVC Pipe Ball Pit
- I Love My Kid’s DIY Weighted Blanket Tutorial (Not quite sensory room related. But, still is worth a mention.)
If you want to find some great ideas when it comes to affordable sensory room ideas I suggest checking out And Next Come L’s 25 Sensory Hacks for Kids for Vestibular and Proprioceptive Input. There’s a lot of great information there.
Are you planning a sensory room or already have a room in place? Share with us your hopes, dreams, inspirations, and all that mushy stuff below. Like I said, we’re still in the planning stages of our sensory room/bedroom integration. We’ll take all the advice we can get!