Multi-Sensory or sensory play environments are used as a form of therapy, to assist with the development of social skills in both children and adults with special needs. This week I’ve been researching and discovering some of the best sensory play environments for kids in Ireland and here is what I’ve found.
Don’t miss our best content straight to your inbox! Sign up now and get our FREE newsletters packed with fun ideas and things to do with the kids, family-friendly recipes, expert advice, parenting tips and great competitions.
From airports to outdoor and indoor gardens and play areas, below are a list of sensory friendly play environments that all the family can enjoy.
Awesome Sensory Play Environments For Kids In Ireland
Drogheda Leisure Park, Louth
Drogheda is Ireland’s first leisure park to have a multi-sensory play room. Advertised as a soft furnished play room with dimmed lighting full to the brim with sensory furnishings.
All sessions within the sensory play room must be pre-booked, and you must be a member to avail of it.
Kildare Farm Foods Sensory Garden and Playground, Kildare
Kildare Farm Foods in Rathmuck, Co Kildare is free to visit and you can see a variety of animals including; goats, camels, zebra, wallabies, pigs, deer, ostrich, aplaca, buffalo, emu sheep and more. In January 2020 they opened a sensory garden and playground for all visitors to enjoy. In addition visitors can ride the Adventure Railway and play at the indoor Indian Creek Crazy Golf course for a small fee.
Clayton Hotel, Sligo
In recent months the Clayton Hotel, Sligo has opened Ireland’s first hotel sensory play room. Open 7 days per week to hotel guests and Club Vitae members, the sensory play room offers children a calm retreat away from the busy hotel.
It has been specially designed for children with additional needs and provides a positive effect on the 5 senses. The room contains different smells, a range of fabrics, soft touch for touch, moving lights, sensory boards, lava lamps and there is calming music played in the background at all times. The Sensory Play Room also contains a ball pool with over 1,000 colourful soft balls.
Sensory Me, Roscommon
Sensory Me is a therapeutic multi-sensory play environment the first of its kind in Roscommon Town. Complete with a climbing wall, interactive floor zone, soft play area, colour changing balls and ball pool. It is a parent/carer led service and is open 7 days a week.
Best of Matz, Meath
Located in Kells, Best of Matz have a sensory play room based on the four principles of smell, touch, sight, and sound offering a therapeutic area of relaxation and stimulation for all children.
With sensory lighting, specialised activity equipment, and exotic fish tanks this room allows children who need a quieter area, to enjoy themselves.
Dreamland is a purpose built, all-inclusive sensory play centre for all children regardless of their ability or disability. Open Tuesday to Sunday, it is suitable for children up to 9 years. They have a state of the art sensory play room, filled with special equipment and activities. Highlights that kids will love include;
- The magical light tunnel
- Experiencing the real sounds and smells of nature.
- Dreamland; the mini supermarket with shelves full of false food, trollies and checkouts with computerised tills.
- The magical slide and tree of life
- The flight of dreams
- Various dress up stations including under the sea, princess parlour, castle, fire station and more.
Little Big Town, Westmeath
Little Big Town in Kilbeggan is all about fuelling a child’s imagination through old fashioned play. All play areas are fully wheelchair accessible so any child can play. Children can dress up and feel free to be anyone they want to be:
- Fire fighter
There are 16 play areas in total and each room has its own hands on activities with different textures to meet all the childrens’ tactile needs.
They have a fully equipped sensory play room where you can retreat to with your child if they need some quiet time or get over stimulated.
Delta Sensory Gardens, Carlow
Delta Sensory Gardens are a hidden gem on the outskirts of Carlow Town and have been described as ‘an oasis of peace and tranquility’ by TripAdvisor.
Inside you will find themed gardens and numerous water features including the famous Kugal, one tonne of pink marble floating on a cushion of water. The fully accessible gardens have so much to offer throughout the year and a gorgeous little coffee shop with delicious homemade offerings.
Wild West Play Village, Mayo
Recently the indoor Wild West Play Village, located in Westport, reached out to parents for inspiration to create a quality sensory play room to enhance every child’s experience while having fun at the play centre.
A self-funded project, it is almost complete and the first of the sensory play rooms, with an aqua theme, will be open by October 2017.
Kidspace Play Centre, Dublin
Located in Rathfarnham, Kidspace has a multi-sensory play area attached to the toddler village. Features include:
- an image projector
- bubble light tubes
- a light tunnel
- stimulation equipment
- soft, tactile relaxation areas
The sensory play area offers a calm and tranquil environment area for parents and guardians to interact with their children and is full of stimulating equipment ranging from soft relaxing areas to interactive equipment. Each specially designed to help children with sensory development.
Adam & Friends, Dublin
Adam & Friends are one of Ireland’s leading manufacturers and designers of sensory rooms and offer an online shop for specialist equipment.
Located in Rathfarnham, you can avail of a one hour sensory and soft play session and experience a huge range of products from learning and development toys to therapy equipment for children with special needs. You can book via their Facebook page or by popping them an email to [email protected]
Tom Duffy’s Circus, Nationwide
Tom Duffy’s Circus is one of the world’s longest-established circuses and a firm favourite in Ireland. They have introduced sensory shows at each of their destinations recognising that loud music, flashing lights and the Big Top going into darkness for periods mean a lot of families miss out.
They believe their show should be open to everyone and their sensory friendly performance will ensure all members of families can attend. Sensory performances are suitable for absolutely everyone, particularly smaller children who don’t like noise, children with autism and those with other sensory needs.
The show is quieter than standard performances with the lighting and special effects being toned down to ensure there are no very bright or flashing lights. Check them out next time they are in your area.
Shannon Airport, Clare
I’m sure we can all agree that traveling with children, in general, can be stressful. We commend Shannon Airport who have committed to making ‘every passenger’s journey as easy and stress-free as possible’.
- Anyone with special needs traveling through Shannon Airport can wear a special baseball cap or wristband so staff can easily identify them and help them get through the airport as smoothly as possible.
- They have added a Sensory Room in the Departure Lounge, the first in Europe.
- They have introduced pre-arranged tours so passengers can familiarise themselves with the process of traveling through the airport before they actually travel. To avail of this service simply email: [email protected].
Spectra Sensory Clothing
Is your child on the spectrum? Spectra Sensory Clothing are using their experience as carers of Autistic children to develop a sensory clothing range to help improve the lives of children with ASD/Aspergers and make life a little easier for their parents and carers. They would be grateful for feedback from parents and carers as to their experiences of finding clothing suitable for their child’s sensory requirements.
Mum Meta tells us about the inspiration behind Spectra Sensory Clothing,
“As a parent and carer for a teenage girl on the autistic spectrum I have identified a gap in the market for sensory clothing suitable for both children and teenagers with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). From personal experience and direct feedback there are autistic children who will, once they find an item of clothing they find comfortable, wear the garment until it no longer fits and it can be a difficult task finding a replacement. I have received reports of children attending school with no socks because parents are unable to convince the child to put up with the sensory discomfort.”
Cinemas With Sensory Friendly Movie Screenings, Nationwide
Odeon, IMC, Omniplex and Eye Cinema all offer sensory friendly movie screenings of the latest blockbusters in locations across Ireland.
The sensory screenings usually have reduced sound, lights on, no trailers and freedom of movement while families enjoy their film.
Have we missed any other awesome sensory play environments? Be sure to let us know in the comments.