Introduction: Sensory Characters to Help With SPD & Autism
It's my understanding that Sensory Elements can really help people who have Sensory Processing Disorder and Autism. I'm currently making some Gruffalo Beds, one of which is for a little boy who has Autism. So here's how I made the Sensory Gruffalo Characters to go on his bed.
Step 1: Create the Character Design
The first step of this project is settling on a design. These could be made for any characters you like. Your child's favourite movie or TV show would make for great inspiration.
Once you have a design in mind you need to transfer it to the 12mm MDF. You could draw it onto the MDF or like in my case use a laser to etch the outlines for you. In my design I created some circles and then added Gruffalo characters to the side. The circles are where the faux fur will be added later.
Step 2: Cut Out the Characters
The next step is to cut out the design. I started by cutting out the inner circle first. I did this with a bandsaw but you can use a jigsaw too. I do change this design a little later on as you'll see. With the circle cut out I could then cut the rest of the design out too. Make sure to keep the inner circle you cut out (or whatever shape you used for your design) as this piece will be used to apply the faux fur to. Sand the pieces you cut to remove any sharp edges.
Step 3: Paint the Characters
With the designs cut out, now is the best time to paint the edges black. For speed I used black spray paint. Painting them face down will prevent pain getting onto the front of the designs.
Once the edges are painted you can turn your attention to the fronts of the characters. I used regular acrylic paints for mine. A sponge works great for applying the base colour. Applying the details can be done with paint too but marker pens can work well. For the lighter colours I used acrylic paint. I then used a marker pen for the darker colours. Much quicker and easier to use a marker pen I find but whatever you prefer will do the trick.
Step 4: Create the Sensor Sections
Now we can turn our attention to the sensory parts of these characters. The circle piece that was cut from the centres of the design can now get some spray adhesive applied to the edges. This will hold the faux fur to the MDF and help you to pull the material taught.
Sit the MDF circle in the middle of a slightly over sized piece of faux fur. A sharp pair of scissors is recommended when cutting the faux fur. Then pull the edges up and stick them to the sides of the MDF where you applied spray adhesive. Work your way around the edge and as you go pull the material taught. You do have some adjust ability time to go back and rearrange where need.
The spray adhesive will help the hold the material in place but the characters themselves will help a lot too. It was at this point I decided to change the design a little. I wasn't happy with how the circle design was looking so I took the characters back to the bandsaw and cut an opening at the bottom. I think they look loads better and they even expose more the faux fur to touch so its win win.
Step 5: Secure Together & Mount
The characters get applied to the faux fur disks with super glue. Some dabs of glue around the edge of the fabric where the MDF will touch help secure the pieces together. These can then be mounted anywhere you like. They would be great mounted to the wall but I'm currently making some Gruffalo Beds so these got mounted to the side panel of the bed. I used super glue to stick them to the board too.
I really hope this project has inspired you. From what I have read i believe these sensory characters are a great option for sensory rooms but let your imagination run with it!