Fluorescent lighting can cause overstimulation and headaches in children with sensory issues.

What Colors Are Pleasing to Kids With Sensory Issues?

by Jaime Vargas-Benitez

Children with sensory issues can be kept calm by using the right colors in their environment and by avoiding fluorescent lighting and bright colors. These children usually find warm greens and blues to be pleasing colors, though they may also be drawn to neutral tones -- like gray and tan -- as well as pastel colors. The use of these colors in their environment aids children with sensory issues in the areas of focus, attention and learning ability.

1. Greens and Blues

Children with sensory issues typically like muted tones of blue and green, This is according to the research of Rogers, J., & Short, J., in "Sensory Differences: Online Training Module," for the Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence. These colors have shorter wavelengths than brighter colors and thus do not create as much stimulation in the brain. Children with sensory issues are soothed by softer hues, which do not create a feeling of chaos inside them. The OCALI training module says visual processing aids in recognizing physical features, places and events. Keeping children with sensory issues from feeling overstimulated by bright colors is key in helping them to process the rest of their environment.

2. Neutral Tones

Children with sensory issues are drawn to artistic exploration. A study out of Colorado State University titled "Autism and My Sensory Based World" recommends parents provide neutral-toned paper for children. Tan and gray papers work best to keep sensory issues at bay. These tones are light enough to allow for writing, painting or drawing but are muted so as not to overstimulate the sensory-sensitive child. This way the child can explore artistically without worry of agitation from their art supplies.

3. Pastel Colors

The Falkirk Council is an organization of occupational therapists devoted to helping parents of children with sensory issues create a great home environment in which their child can thrive. The organization recommends painting a child's room with pastel colors and using dark shades on the windows. The pastel colors illicit a calm, peaceful feeling and may put the sensory-sensitive child into a tranquil state, which fosters positive interactions in the home. The Falkirk Council advises parents to use the child's room as a safe place whenever the child becomes overstimulated. Having a sensory-friendly room of pastel colors allows for better sleep habits and an inner peace for children.

4. Lights to Avoid

According to Autism Today, children with sensory disorders need to avoid bright and fluorescent lighting. These lights can cause headaches and eye issues in people without any sensory issues, but when children with sensory issues are exposed to fluorescent lighting, they can become overwhelmed and disoriented. This can lead to an inability to focus or pay attention. Autism Today advises parents to avoid this type of lighting and to focus on providing natural light for sensory-sensitive children. Natural light helps keep children calm and attentive.

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