The Ultimate Guide to a Sensory-Friendly Environment

Have you ever wondered what it takes to put together a sensory room? Our son has Sensory Modulation Disorder, also known as Sensory Processing Disorder, and he seeks sensory sometimes and other times he gets overwhelmed by sensory stimulation. We incorporate sensory breaks as an essential part of our day. When you’re on a budget, like us, you need to know how to make a sensory room on a budget. I used to think that the creation of a sensory room required a lot of money, but you can do many simple things to create a sensory friendly environment on a tight budget!

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Tactile Stimulation:

  1. Give bear hugs. That tight squeeze helps with the need for deep pressure.
  2. Make a ball pit out of a swimming pool and a bunch of multi-colored balls
  3. Back scratches
  4. Hand fidgets like this Set of 3! Tangle Jr. Original Fidget Toy that you can find cheap on Amazon.
  5. Play in a sandbox
  6. Go to a pet store and pet some animals
  7. Sensory bins with dry rice and beans
  8. Play with whipped cream, shaving cream, and finger paints
  9. Vibrating toys like this vibrating tube or this vibrating pen come pretty cheap
  10. Play in water, like in the pool or in a sprinkler


Smell/Taste/Oral Stimulation

  1. Smell scented candles
  2. Use essential oils (lavender and tea tree oil may cause hormonal imbalances in young boys, so avoid those!)
  3. Sniff spices and herbs (our son’s favorite used to be cinnamon)
  4. Allow your child to explore different tastes
  5. Chew chewing gum
  6. Blow bubbles
  7. Suck thick liquids from straws (milkshakes, anyone?)
  8. Smell flowers
  9. Eat foods with different temperatures and textures
  10. Find an age-appropriate “chewy” like this Chewable Silicone Round Pendant



  1. Running, jumping, marching, and dancing all help with the need for movement
  2. Climb ladders at playgrounds or get a safe ladder
  3. Do the hokey pokey
  4. Go swimming
  5. Playground slides and monkey bars
  6. Go on scooter rides
  7. Have your child push the grocery cart or stroller
  8. Wall push-ups, floor push-ups, and sit-ups for exercise
  9. Let him/her roll down a hill
  10. Jump on a mini trampoline (my son loves his)

Auditory Stimulation

  1. Singing and humming
  2. Get a white noise machine or CD
  3. Listen for nature sounds
  4. Listen to your child’s favorite music
  5. Create a safe space with quiet and low light
  6. Play musical instruments (drums, tambourines, and maracas are all great)
  7. Use whisper-voices
  8. Blow whistles
  9. Allow your child to explore the volume control knob of the stereo
  10. Use sound-canceling headphones

Visual Stimulation

  1. Use colored light bulbs (the blue ones work well for calming)
  2. You can get bubble lamps and lava lamps for pretty cheap like this Lava Aquarium with Life-Like Fish
  3. Get disco balls without a strobe effect. My son loves this Rotating Disco Lamp.
  4. Look at photos and picture books
  5. Look at fish tanks
  6. Allow your child to choose what color he/she wears
  7. Use sunglasses with good quality
  8. Play games like flashlight tag, I Spy, etc., to develop visual skills
  9. Decrease visual overload by only leaving out 5-10 toys at a time
  10. Watch cartoons and movies

My Son's Sensory-Friendly Environment




We need to re-paint desperately, but these are some of the things we’ve put in my son’s sensory-friendly room

Of course, you should consult an occupational therapist to get advice on appropriate techniques for your child specifically and you can use this sensory checklist to help you detect where to focus the most attention. You’ll find that creating a sensory friendly environment doesn’t take quite as much money as you might think if you look not only on Amazon, but in the clearance section of stores and even at your large chain stores. Today we found a hand-held disco-ball for about $7.00 on clearance at Wal-Mart. If you keep your eyes open for these things, you’ll locate them for just a portion of the cost you see them at in those sensory magazines. It’s all worth it when you see the results, so I hope you found at least some of what you need here!

Create Your Own Sensory-Friendly Checklist and Comment Below With Your Child’s Favorites!

Disclaimer: This blog entry does contain affiliate links to items that I myself would buy or have purchased already. While I do receive some portion of money for your discoveries on my behalf, please know that I would never put anything on my website that I do not personally believe in. Happy clicking!

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