Book a free sensory tent for your event
About the Sensory Tent
Have you thought about providing a Sensory Space for kids with additional needs at your next event?
We have four pop-up Sensory Tents available to book for free for your next Northern Rivers event or activity.
A portable sensory retreat is an excellent tool for events out in the community – to support children with sensory impairments and their families to feel included and that they belong at all community events.
The sensory tent provides a safe place for a child to go to away from overwhelming sensory stimuli such as sound, light, touch, and movement. It contains items to assist children experiencing sensory overload, including earmuffs, weighted lap pads and toys, disco-seat and various sensory toys.
Helpful inclusion links
Community Resource Unit Inc – advocacy organisation creating and promoting positive change so that people with disabilities can belong to and participate in community life
Autism Spectrum Australia – Keep up to date with research and events at Autism Spectrum Australia
Kids Helpline – offers great resources for children and parents
raisingchildren.net.au – wide range of resources, articles and ideas to help you with raising children and looking after your own needs
mychoicematters.org.au – works with people with disability and their families to live life their way and get the most out of the changing disability system
Inclusive Schools Network – plan your school, district or community celebration!
Northcott – Our purpose is to build an inclusive society where people can live the life they choose
A Place to Belong – lots of great resources for creating inclusive communities
Cerebral Paulsy Alliance – Get the most from your NDIA plan
Becoming an advocate for your child with disability – Raising Children Network video
I choose Inclusion
Queensland Parents for People with a Disability released a booklet ‘I Choose Inclusion’, in 2011. Many parents have questions regarding their children’s education and the choices available to them. This booklet draws on research as well as the thinking of experts on inclusive education. This booklet is free to download from the Community Resource Unit website
Click here to download the booklet:
Reflecting on Kelly’s supermarket story in the video – take some time to consider the bigger picture for a family supporting children with disability.
What is the cost of feeling as though you do not belong in community?
- As a parent of a child with additional needs
- As a child
What is the impact for Kelly’s family if she feels her only option is to run away at the supermarket?
Please share this video with your friends and family to support inclusion!
The personal cost of feeling judged by others
- Not feeling confident to return to the supermarket
- The financial burden of having to go to smaller stores and only afford to buy the basics
- The impact of losing routine and the inability to make planned meals when there is no food in the house
- Balancing the demands of parenting children with anxiety and other challenging behaviour
- striving not to smack kids and then facing the strong community judgements and comments about discipline and parenting practise
Imagine leaving the supermarket without your weekly groceries; what is the cost of that to your family?
- No food in the house
- Kids behaviour escalates as there is no healthy food in the house
- Make do with whatever food is in the house which will have further negative impacts on the kids’ behaviour. This escalation in behaviour can be amplified for weeks without access to the right food; The impact for the parent: the guilt associated with not being a good parent and provider
- The length of time it takes to recover from the trauma of such an event and public humiliation
- Accumulative effect of the negative community attitudes and feelings of being judged
The Belonging Art Exhibition
These artworks were developed as part of a series of art workshops held in 2014 at Tweed Regional Gallery and the local “Kids Caring for Country” Aboriginal cultural group at Murwillumbah. The kids were asked to present a picture of something that made them feel they belong. The art workshops were hosted by artist Christine Spedding, workers from Accessible Arts Northern Rivers and the Belonging Project.
Would you like to host these artworks as a pop-up exhibition at your next event? The portable exhibition is available at no cost to groups, organisations or businesses in the Northern Rivers of NSW who want to display it at an event or at their premises for a specified time. It comes complete with attractive folding display boards.
Support for Families and Carers
- Carers NSW – for carer information, support and counselling between 9am to 5pm – Carer Line 1800 242 636 carersnsw.org.au
- Kids helpline – 1800 55 1800 kidshelpline.com.au
- Lifeline – 13 11 14
- Beyondblue support service – 1300 22 4636 beyondblue.org.au/getsupport
- raisingchildren.net.au wide range of resources, articles and ideas to help you with raising children and looking after your own needs
- Emergency respite for carers – Far North Coast Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centre 1800 052 222
- DAISI – www.daisi.asn.au – a free confidential service providing information and supports for people with a disability, and their families, carers and advocates in the Northern Rivers region of NSW
- Far North Coast Ability Links 1300 792 940 and nwalliance.org.au – working with people aged 9 to 64 years and their families and carers to uncover their goals and find ways to make them happen
- socialfutures.org.au supporting Thriving People and Strong Communities
Sensory Santa was created for families with kids with additional needs who can’t have a photo with Santa because of their sensory barriers. Sensory Santa offers no background music, no lines or queues, 5 minute bookings, no spotlights or flashing lights, chair next to Santa, understanding Santa and photographer and a quieter time such as before or after the shopping centre is open.
Contact Chanelle on 0422 416 509 or email for more info or to book a Sensory Santa.
What is a sensory space?
A sensory space can be used as a chill out space. It can also help kids to explore and develop sensory skills and emotions.
It is important that these spaces are not used as punishment or keeping kids separate. Although we know of five senses we use daily; sight, smell, touch, taste and hearing, sensory rooms can target seven senses by including stimulation for movement/ balance and muscle senses as well.
Will my child benefit from a sensory room?
Sensory rooms are great for children with learning difficulties such as autism or children who have sight or hearing difficulties but all children can benefit from sensory play.
All children are unique and as a care giver you will be the best person to understand your child’s needs. Pay attention to your child’s reaction to various stimuli. If you’re unsure or need specific strategies for your child, it is best to contact an occupational therapist who specialises in assessing sensory processing challenges.
How can I build my own sensory space?
Your sensory room should be built around the needs and abilities of your child. For instance, if your child has epilepsy, you’ll avoid flashing lights in sensory play. No one knows your kids better than you do, so create something they’ll love.
It can be in a pop up tent or a corner of a room, a sheet covering a table. Be creative in your home, consider a space that is quiet, where you can go and share in the sensory experience or observe from other parts of the house.
Use of colour and light
Are you creating a place of stimulation and exploration or a calming space this will direct what resources you use, your choice of colour or use of one colour like black to minimize stimuli.
Creating a sense of calm may mean you keep to a gentle colour scheme, creams and light colours depending on your child.
Try color cubes, rope lights, and/or low wattage pastel colored light bulbs, lava lamps, bubble columns , and liquid light projectors can be good ideas. Hang old CD’s also have a twinkling effect. Fluorescent lights are bothersome.
Flooring and texture
Whether you use foam jigsaw squares you can slot together or a shaggy rug for flooring in your sensory room, your child should be comfortable whilst they play. As a nice contrast to a soft flooring, why not cover half of the floor with different panels of rougher material? You can use a section of a door mat for bristles, a square tile of carpet for a slightly rough material and section of a bath mat for a new feel. Be creative and think out of the box for good ideas your child with love exploring, (i.e., satin, carpet swatches, silk, lambswool, washcloths, cotton balls, etc.)
A range of music could be used in sensory play. Try out a few different types of sounds to see what works best. One child might like to hear rain sounds or wind chimes waves.
Depending on what your sensory room is used for, you might want to include smell. From smelly toys to scented oils, you can easily introduce some smells into your space. Calming smells can include vanilla, jasmine or lavender whilst more stimulating smells can include cinnamon, spices or sweet smells.
Many parents may wish to include taste as a form of sensory play. If you child is willing, you can introduce a new taste to them. From sweet to sour, you can explore the taste using all senses before eventually having a taste.
Sense of movement
Movement is an important part of a sensory space. A rocking or swinging motion can prove calming and can help develop motor skills. A rocking chair/horse or balance board is great. If you can manage to hang up a swing or a hammock, all the better. Do what you can with the space and within your budget.
Sensory muscle play or proprioceptive is play which applies gentle pressure to address a need to be held, squashed or hugged by something. Children aren’t always interested in a human cuddle and sometimes just like the feeling of being squashed in-between toys, bedding or small spaces. Including this into your sensory space can be easy.
Calming space tips
- Use beanbags or cushions to relax on or under, using weighted blankets or weighted toys can be soothing
- Include earmuffs to cut out external sounds
- Soft calming music of choice or sounds of nature can assist in relaxation
Introducing toys that refocus attention like finding small things in a bottle of rice, spikey balls or squishy toys
Sensory play tips
- Include chewy toys, toys with flashing lights (such as a ball that lights up when you shake it) and toys with different textures to stimulate your child.
- Ball pits or paddling pools filled with balls are great for sensory play
- Walls can be turned into sensory stations by attaching different door handles or knobs to them.
- If kept up high in a safe place, lava lamps or bubble tubes can provide hours of visual stimulation.
- Swatches of wallpaper stuck into a book can be good for touch.
- Concentrate on one or two senses at a time
- Let your child be free and creative, this is their space
The Belonging Project is funded by the NSW Department of Family and Community Services, Ageing, Disability and Home Care. Please feel free to use ‘everybody belongs’ materials to promote inclusion in your community.
The Belonging Project acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land where we live and work and their continuing connection to land, water, sea and community. We pay respects to Australia’s First Peoples, to their unique and diverse cultures, and to Elders past, present and future