This week between 27th March and 2nd April is World Autism Acceptance Week!
Did you know that in the UK alone there are 700,000 children and adults diagnosed with Autism? World Autism Acceptance Week is a chance for people to join together in support and help to create a better, inclusive society for individuals on the Autistic spectrum.
The National Autistic Society has a fantastic range of fundraising challenges, activities and resources in line with this year’s theme of Colour. For our Sensory Blog this week, we’ve decided to put together our top picks of colourful, interactive sensory equipment and the benefits for autistic users.
Sensory Equipment and Autism
For each individual on the autistic spectrum, they can be affected in various different ways. Because of how wide the spectrum is, there are a range of characteristics amongst autistic individuals. These can include:
Sensory Environments are designed to provide a positive, developmental and stimulating space that helps autistic individuals in a way that feels most safe and comfortable to them. The equipment within these spaces are designed to have different benefits for different types of users, so that environments can be transformed into an inclusive place for all.
What Role Does Colour Play in Sensory Environments?
Within these sensory environments, colour plays an incredibly important role in enhancing the effects and mood. There have been many studies into the influence colour has on a person’s mood and wellbeing, which is discussed further in our colour therapy blog. For individuals on the autistic spectrum, colour can be utilised to help achieve their desired needs and goals.
Let’s take a look at some of our most colourful sensory equipment, and how colour is incorporated.
Borealis Tubes and Bubble Tubes
Bubble Tubes (pictured left) create a spectrum of colour-changing bubbles that move throughout the tube either passively or through user control.
Our Borealis Tubes (pictured right) are an alternative that are designed to bring the effect of the northern lights into a sensory space. Various colour combinations, patterns and effects can also be displayed.
Fibre Optics are a fantastic, colourful feature that can be incorporated into various types of Sensory Rooms (e.g. dark rooms, sensory rooms, sensory pools). Fibre Optics can be built into many different types of sensory equipment that cater to different needs – as shown in the images above of a Fibre Optic Curtain (pictured left) and a Fibre Optic Harness (pictured right).
The Fibre Optic lights are connected to an LED light source which is transmitted throughout, producing illuminated colours that are safe to touch and create an engaging form of visual stimulation.
Digital Infinity Tunnel, Tower Light & Fan Light Panel
As shown in picture one, the Fanlight Panel can showcase a gradient of colours that light up to create different sequences. The fanlight also has a built-in microphone which enables users to interact with the panel, causing the colour sequences and gradient to change.
The Digital Infinity Tunnel features rows of colourful LEDs which move infinitely, creating an effect of the colours continuing on until they disappear. Users can control the panel to change different light and speed effects. Similar to the Fanlight Panel, there is also a built-in microphone which causes the lights to dance, change colour and react to sounds from users.
Mood Lighting is a common sensory feature that can come in many different forms, within many different sensory spaces. This feature is a great way to influence users’ moods through various colours, depending on the mood you wish to set.
For example, Hydrotherapy Pools (pictured left) commonly use mood lighting to help create a relaxing ambience for pool users. Colours such as purple are known to be helpful with people who are more introverted, enhancing energy levels and socialisation.
Calming Rooms (pictured right) are another sensory space that benefits from mood lighting. As the purpose of calming rooms is to de-escalate users from a heightened state of emotion, selective colours can be used to help the calming process. As discussed in our colour therapy blog, colours such as green and blue are known to help reduce overstimulation and encourage relaxation.
One of the great features of projectors are the various types of projections you can create through different colours, patterns, shapes and more.
Because of this versatility, projectors can be incorporated into lots of different sensory spaces and cater to various sensory needs such as relaxation, storytelling, and teaching.
In addition to the visual benefits of colour projections, they also have the ability to be interactive. In the image to the left, a colourful circle pattern has been created within a multi-sensory room, which can move around the space and create a captivating sequence. The image to the right shows colourful projections that are displayed on the water surface, for users to engage with whilst in the water.
Key Benefits of Colourful Sensory Equipment
Now that we’ve explored our top picks of colourful sensory equipment – let’s go over the key benefits for users with Autism.
How can you get involved with Autism Awareness Week?
There are lots of different ways you can get involved with Autism Awareness Week through volunteering, donations or participating in their Spectrum Colour Challenge!
We are proud to be supporting and celebrating Autism Awareness Week and we hope you can join too!