By: Eva Burkart

We are all familiar with the sensory aspects of day to day life. You might find that going to the gym or on long nature walks help you to feel calmer and more focused during the day. Or perhaps you know that fidget toys, music, lighting candles, or spicy food help you feel more awake, grounded, and able to focus in your day-to-day.

Our bodies and brains use specialized systems to register all the different sensory information in our environment and piece it together to build a complete picture of what is going on around us. Touch, sight, sound, movement, smell, taste, internal sensation. Each of these senses work together to build your conscious reality.

At least 1 in 20 people have what is called Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). This affects the way that the brain processes sensory information. SPD can lead to an individual being either overly receptive or less receptive to sensory input. Either way, the symptoms of SPD can be frustrating for the individual, as it impacts how they perceive the world around them. SPD is especially common among individuals with disabilities and special needs. A sensory room is a helpful tool for someone to regulate their sensory needs.

Eva Burkart, COTA/L is an occupational therapy assistant at The Friendship Circle of Wisconsin. She teaches job and life skills to adults with disabilities in the Employment Training Program.


Pick a room/ section of a room/ closet  to transform

Cozy up the Space:

-bean bag, rocking chair, pillows, blankets, weighted blanket

-Dim lighting, relaxing lights and lamps


Add texture to the walls:

-Glue pompoms to a piece of construction paper or cardboard and attach to wall

-Glue squares of different fabric squares to paper or cardboard

Sensory Tactile Bins

Can include:

-Uncooked rice, uncooked pasta, dry beans, water beads, popcorn kernels, beads, packing

peanuts, pom poms, glass marbles, sand, legos, toy figurines, etc.

-Play dough/ slime


Shaker Bottles

For the liquid inside can use:

-Water, cooking oil, clear glue

Can fill bottles with:

-Glitter, beads, pompoms, googley eyes, etc.


Fidget Toys

Stress balls, Pop Its, fidget spinners, Rubix Cube, bean bags