QUESTION: Setting Up a Sensory Room?

QUESTION:

I attended your wonderful conference through CASE in Champaign, Illinois. I spoke with you briefly but wanted to get your input again on the use of Sensory Rooms in schools. I have a few of them that are used by special as well as general education kids, but I’m having difficulty getting these rooms to work effectively. I was wondering what you might suggest as the easiest way to set them up. When a child is brought into Sensory Room, how would you structure it so that aides could work with kids fairly easily?

You mentioned having a calming corner then a section for vestibular/proprioceptive, so I plan to inservice and follow up with staff. I am also trying to set up visuals so staff are not using rooms in a counterproductive way.

Thanks!

GWEN’S ANSWER:

Here are some helpful (hopefully!) hints:

  • Start with basic instruction for all of the kids who will be using the sensory room. They need an understanding of how to determine their current sensory speed and then how to alter their speed accordingly.
  • I recommend creating three areas in the room: calming, just-right, and alerting. I often call these areas SLOW, JUST-RIGHT, and GO! Ideally, it’s awesome to visually section off the rooms with dividers, rugs, or just colored duct tape on the floor.
  • As kids enter, the aide can ask “who thinks they need to SLOW (relax, calm down, chill out)?” then send those kids to the SLOW area. Continue with the other centers.
  • The aide should be trained to watch for signs that a child chose incorrectly.
  • Have the whole group finish with 3 minutes of slow wall pushups (or other form of proprioceptive input) and belly breathing.

I hope this helps!

Best Wishes,
Gwen