Have you and your child ever been to sensory gyms?
The world can be distracting and noisy. Being in an overly stimulating place can overwhelm some children. Sensory overload may lead to tantrums and other behaviors that are difficult to manage.
A practical way to provide safe spaces for children is to create intentional environments designed with sensory play in mind.
Sensory gyms are a great example of this. They feature appropriate sensory equipment and toys for children to explore, grow and learn at their own pace and on their own terms.
Sensory playgrounds or sensory gyms support active sensory play. The equipment found can foster communication and motor skills. They also encourage kinaesthetic development and strengthen coordination and balance.
Open floor spaces between structures, small quiet areas, and cushioned flooring are common features of sensory gyms. Toys that can be enjoyed with independent play, such as kaleidoscopes or sensory panels, are also popular additions.
Sensory gyms are colorful, engaging and fun. They can look like run-of-the-mill children’s play areas at first glance. However, they are far more considerate and inclusive, particularly for special needs children.
Most activities meant to stimulate and develop the senses can be called sensory play. These activities may or may not include the use of sensory toys.
Young children learn and retain information and skills more effectively when their senses are engaged. Much of sensory play focuses on hearing, seeing, smelling and touching as they are the most accessible.
The lesser-known vestibular and proprioceptive senses can be developed through sensory play, too. The former is more commonly known as the sense of balance, while the latter is the sense of limb movement and positioning.
A child that has difficulty managing sensory input may display an aversion for loud noises, specific textures, or other stimuli. On the other hand, a child that is undersensitive can display what can seem like an excessive amount of energy. They may climb walls, run around, or spin in place.
Children experiencing either extreme can benefit from sensory gyms. These special places have built-in accommodations for not-so-ordinary situations that common playgrounds may not be equipped to handle properly.
Sensory gyms are where children with SPD or ASD can practice how to interact with the rest of the world without fear of judgment or feelings of distress. As children grow older, sensory gyms support pressure-free and curiosity-fueled developmental progression.
Typical play centers can be stressful for children that have trouble processing sensory input. Sensory gyms engage children better because they’re fun, familiar, and considerate of different social and environmental needs. Children love being in sensory gyms because they get to explore and engage with equipment that meets their sensory needs, aka “sensory diet”.
Below are three more benefits of sensory play that enhance the already enjoyable experience that sensory gyms can offer children.
Sensory play is ideal for frustrated or anxious children. It is calming and grounding for children to have the freedom to act like and express themselves without restraint.
Sensory gym activities are low stress and low risk for everyone: parents, children, and therapists. These non-threatening play areas make learning and developing skills fun instead of agitating, boring or taxing.
These spaces are made to handle rough and tumble play, so very active children are able to regulate internal discomfort by expending energy without getting hurt or bothering others. Children that find it difficult to play with others can use educational toys on their own.
As we’ve learned above, sensory play can help manage sensory processing issues. Structured and goal-based treatment of hypo- or hypersensitivity is called sensory integration, which promotes learning how to respond to stimuli more appropriately.
Sensory integration challenges help children practice communication and cognition. Sensory play can accelerate children’s understanding of social interaction norms and differences, whether or not they’re on the spectrum.
Why do children respond so well to sensory play? To paraphrase Einstein, playing is the most effective form of research. When children are having fun, particularly as a group, it’s much easier for them to absorb and retain knowledge about interpersonal boundaries and cues. Following the sensory play, Children appear to be more grounded with improved attention and focus on tasks. They are better equipped to engage with their therapist, parents, or peers to learn a skill and improve retention of that skill.
Sensory gyms help children explore unfamiliar sounds, textures, visuals, and gameplay. Getting children to act on their curiosity in a safe manner is the point of many sensory toys.
Sensory play builds on the foundation of previous sessions. As children learn and understand more, they are able to practice and master more complex skills or movement. Their language and problem-solving skills develop further.
As a result, the world figuratively expands. Children learn more words to use for more specific verbal descriptions and more complicated trains of thought. They are able to process more information and connect related concepts.
Schools, hospitals and other establishments with sensory gyms are ideal because they provide inclusive areas for all children.
However, a private sensory gym at home can be a game-changer. A personal sensory gym, perfectly suited to your child’s needs, is guaranteed to include specialized equipment and be available at all times of the day for your child to meet his sensory diet needs and reinforce skills learned in therapy. The more they have access to practice the skills daily the faster improvement will be observed. Its like an adult going to the gym to strengthen and improve tone. The more frequently you have access to the equipment to work on the areas desired the faster one will notice results of being slim, fit and toned. its the same for the children. Giving them access daily to an environment created to improve motor and sensory skills yields in improved sensory integration..
Fun Factory Sensory Gym (FFSG) designs, manufactures and builds customized sensory gyms for all space sizes throughout the United States. Our gyms are therapist trusted and parent recommended. Our years of expertise and trained installers make us the only company in the world highly referred to schools, children hospitals and pediatric therapy clinics. Our gyms are warrantied and are ready for use from the moment they’re installed.Contact us to discuss our sensory gyms and equipment. Find out how we can conceptualize and customize a multi-sensory environment for your home or establishment’s needs within your budget.
After five years in practice, I decided that I needed to upgrade the look of my office to allow for optimal patient care. Upon researching some possibilities, I came across the Fun Factory Sensory Gym. I immediately called the company to purchase my own gym unit. We scheduled an install date and in three short days, my gym and my vision were complete. My patients and their parents walk in and are amazed at the beautiful and fun set up. I truly feel that my patients are getting the most effective and efficient care because I have the best equipment to address their individual needs. With the Fun Factory Gym equipment, I am able to help these children improve by Leaps and Bounds!
The Kaufman Children’s Center was proud to announce an exciting upgrade made here at the KCC. Over a long weekend in late January 2013, we completed a huge remodel to our sensory gym.
Our Fun Factory Sensory Gym has been life changing for our family! The entire experience of having the FFSG team in our home was so enjoyable. The crew’s heart and soul is behind the work they’re doing. From the first phone call, FFSG was committed to helping our family and our 3 small children with their various special needs. We have already experienced the calming effects of the net swing and the multiple ways the entire gym provides sensory input and regulation for our intense sensory seekers. What a great tool for our family and more than worth the investment!