4imprint, LLC

3 min read

A quiet, soothing atmosphere can transform a highly stressful day into a more relaxed one for people who are sensory sensitive. Approximately 20% of people have sensory processing sensitivity and about one in 66 Canadians are born with autism. Walking into a school with bright florescent lights, colourful posters and loud noises can be overwhelming and stressful. Help all students and staff enjoy their work and feel welcome by creating a sensory-sensitive space in your school.


Choose muted colours

Bright posters and contrasting colours can be overwhelming for someone with sensory sensitivities. In a sensory-sensitive space, stick to neutral, muted colours. Soft tones can be a breath of fresh air for an overstimulated person. Go above and beyond by keeping the space stocked with neutral-coloured giveaways for students, like notebooks, pens and stress relievers.


Give appropriate cues

Help create a better sensory-sensitive atmosphere in the entire school—not just a dedicated space—by providing appropriate cues. Verbal, physical and/or visual cues can help sensory-sensitive people better prepare for transitions, like moving from one activity to another. Help reduce time-related stress with digital timers that alert students when it’s time to switch to a different activity. Some people may respond better to a physical cue, such as a tap on the shoulder, rather than a verbal cue or a traditional audio cue, such as a bell.


Provide training

Teach students and staff how to recognize sensory needs and handle sensory overload. Contact medical professionals and other sensory-friendly experts to ask if someone can present to your school. Hand out sensory-friendly gifts, like Push-Pop Balls, to thank everyone who participates in training.


Reduce noise

Everyday noises, like plopping a stack of books on a desk or scraping a chair across the floor, can be painful and cause unwanted intrusions for sensory-sensitive people. Place tennis balls on the bottoms of chair legs to reduce noise. Put a large rug in one area of the classroom as a designated sensory-sensitive space that can also help to minimize noise. A neutral-coloured rug may be appreciated by someone who is easily over-stimulated.


Provide natural lighting

Colourful lamps and artificial lighting can be overstimulating. Set up your sensory-friendly space near windows to provide as much natural light as possible. If you can, replace traditional lightbulbs with those that simulate sunlight. Place live plants throughout the space to provide a calm, peaceful atmosphere.


Create soothing spaces

With ideas like toning down bright colours, harsh lighting and loud sounds—plus providing sensory-friendly gifts—you can create a soothing space that helps sensory-sensitive staff and students achieve their best.