As adults, we often associate childhood with vibrant, bold colors like red and yellow. However, for kids with sensory issues, these colors can be overwhelming and distracting. Though some children with sensory processing issues experience it in the form of under-sensitivity, most kids with sensory issues are affected by being overly sensitive to sights, sounds, smells and other types of stimulation. According to the University of Minnesota's InformeDesign newsletter, experts believe that certain colors have a calming effect which may be pleasing to kids with sensory issues.
Cool colors like blue and green may be pleasing to kids with sensory issues. The color blue is said to be helpful in stress management because it invokes feelings of peace and tranquility. In particular, dark blue is associated with reducing stress, according to Dr. Edward F. Group, the founder of the Global Healing Center in Texas. Green is also thought to be a calming color, representing nature and growth. Kids with sensory issues may find shades of green pleasing and rejuvenating.
Earth tones include shades of the colors brown, tan, warm grey and green. Especially in living areas, the colors of the earth can provide kids with a sense of comfort. According to the Feng Shui Society, the color brown is thought to promote relaxation and a sense of security, while grey is said to act as a shield from outside influence. Kids with sensory issues may also enjoy the neutrality of earth tones.
Lighter pastel hues of pink and violet have also been found to have calming effects. According to "Implications," a InformeDesign newsletter from the University of Minnesota, pastel pink "has been shown to be a favorable color for people with learning disabilities." According to the same newsletter, researchers have found that many children with sensory disorders see colors with "greater intensity" and so bright colors may appear "nearly fluorescent," making pastels much easier on their eyes.
Colors to Avoid
Kids with sensory issues may have problems with bright colors such as red, orange, yellow and purple, as the brightness can be too intense for them. Bright white can also be disturbing to kids with sensory issues and may increase anxiety. When colors and patterns are too chaotic or bright, it creates a very distracting environment for kids with sensory issues, according to the "Implications" newsletter.
Light has the ability to change the way colors look. For kids with sensory issues, fluorescent lights can be upsetting and distracting by creating glares or by flickering. Children with sensory issues respond well to natural light. Diffusing light by using pastel light bulbs and lamps that point upward can help create a more pleasing atmosphere for kids with sensory issues.