For children with sensory processing disorders (conditions which affect how the brain receives and responds to sensory information), the everyday sights and sounds of school can be overwhelming. Loud noises, bright lights, motion and other experiences can cause a child to have negative reactions and trigger behaviors that negatively impact their ability to pay attention and participate in the classroom.
Many schools are starting to recognize the particular challenges that these children face by creating “sensory rooms”. Rooms typically have sections, or stations, with active areas, calming areas, and various types of sensory activities.
Some students have designated times which they spend in the sensory rooms while others come to the rooms as needed. The many benefits of sensory rooms include: having a safe and supportive space for students who are suffering sensory overload, allowing special needs populations to succeed academically by providing them with the tools they require to concentrate and learn, managing students’ emotions in an effective, gentle way, and limiting distractions and reducing strain on teachers by preventing or diminishing emotional and behavioral difficulties.
Schools that utilize sensory rooms have found that they can be helpful for all students, not just students with disabilities. When used appropriately, these rooms provide a means for students and staff to find appropriate tools to improve self-regulation and participation as productive learners within their school.
Check out the link below to see a sensory room in action, and check in with your child’s school to find out how they are managing the sensory and behavioral needs of students.