Sensory Room Ideas?

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by sarypotter, Aug 10, 2008.

  1. sarypotter

    sarypotter Comrade

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    Aug 10, 2008

    Does anyone use a sensory room or area in your school or classroom? I have a former time-out room that only gets used when students display inappropriate behaviors as a way to get TO the time-out room -- they love the solitude and the break from work. The former teacher had caught onto this motivation but wasn't sure how to address it. Many of my students have sensory issues, and I would love to set up a sensory area in this space. I've never set one up before, so any ideas would be appreciated.

    My main concern with this idea is that I teach one student who will "muscle" her way to whatever solitude she can find, plant herself on the floor, and be absolutely immovable. I'm worried that turning the former time-out room into a more rewarding space will make it that much more difficult to keep her engaged in her work. I guess I'm hoping that if she's working to earn time in that room, she might come to understand that working is the quickest and easiest way to get uninterrupted time there.

    Then again, if the purpose of the sensory room is to fulfill a sensory need that has previously gone unmet, should it be contingent on work, or should it be on a non-contingent intermittent schedule? I guess if I go with the latter, she might learn that she doesn't have to bolt for the room because she knows it's going to come up in her schedule. That makes sense, too, I suppose. I could also teach her to request a sensory break when she gets overwhelmed, which would be a great replacement for aggressive behavior!

    Okay, so I'm broke. What do I need and what cheap or readily available item can I substitute for it? Thoughts?

    And thanks for being patient as I post so often! I'm getting really excited about the start of the school year!
     
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  3. Dthig65

    Dthig65 Rookie

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    Aug 10, 2008

    maybe you could line the room with black trash bags to darken it and use Christmas lights, chimes, beanbags or other things you probably already have at home. This could get you started until you are able to buy more things...water mat, tactile boards, music.
     
  4. inhisgrip20

    inhisgrip20 Comrade

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    Aug 10, 2008

    Great questions. I've never set up a sensory room either but have always wanted one. We just don't have the space. It'll be an interesting thread to read. :)

    As far as when to give this student access to the sensory room I'm thinking that since this is a need she has, you may want to go the route of including it in her schedule instead of using it as a reward. It would still somewhat be contingent on work because she'd have to finish her previous scheduled activity in order to go check her schedule again to get to the sensory room. Does that make sense? I do think it's a great idea to teach her how to ask for a sensory break. I'll be interested to see other's opinions.

    And of course we'll be patient with you. lol It's nice to have such interesting discussions here. :)
     
  5. Ghost

    Ghost Habitué

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    Aug 10, 2008

    cd with nature sounds or classical music
    bags of beans and a bin to put them in
    mini trampoline
    a mat for laying on or under
    large stuffed animals with sand or something heavy sewn inside
    Koosh balls
    those stupid toys that light up and spin (they love em)
    black light and glow in the dark stickers
    a fuzzy rug, exercise mat, and other textures to lie on
    a theraband tied in a loop for stretching
    windchimes and a fan
    I like the black trash bag idea, but you can use the bb paper and it's nice
    lengths of different textured fabric to wrap up in
    a rocking chair or bean bag
    scented lotion
    Lite Bright
     
  6. teacherpippi

    teacherpippi Habitué

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    Aug 10, 2008

    We had one at my school last year. There were a lot of tactile items in there (large balls, body wraps, a wrap swing, etc).

    Our students had regular sensory break (1-3 times/day depending on the kid) AND we had extra breaks that could be earned.
     
  7. teachersk

    teachersk Connoisseur

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    Aug 10, 2008

    I created a sensory room in my classroom. It was an old "storage closet" type room - so it was quite small, probably 6X8 or so. However, I was able to do an "extreme makeover: sensory edition" and turn it around into something beneficial for my kids.

    There is a black light on the ceiling. (I know that
    we're only supposed to use the black light in 10 minute intervals because supposedly they cause seizures, yet are very calming and helpful in sensory rooms. Was told this by the OT). There is a bookshelf that has two lava lamps on top (one blue, one red). On the shelf below the lava lamps, there is a basket of beanie babies and light up squishy balls and koosh balls. (about 25!) On the shelf below that, there are some of those baby rain stick toys They are primary colors and clear, with little beads that go through when you turn them upside down, and they sound like rain sticks (if that makes sense). The bottom shelf has jingle bell wristbands, rattle type toys, and a "clicker". There is a noise machine in the room (you can choose waves, rain, heartbeat (which scares me a
    little), white noise, and "summer evening" which sounds like a jungle). It's really cool and calming. There are two peg boards attached to the wall (we can thank the TAG teacher for drilling holes to bolt those up for me!) The peg boards have a bunch of sensory type toys attached to them that you can stand in front of and play with. There is a mirror in between the two
    peg boards. There are some glow in the dark star stickers on the wall (which look REAL cool with the black light). There is tube lighting (it looks like movie theater lighting) around both of the pegboards. There is a fish water bubble tube thing on the ground (it's about 3 feet tall and the fish move around from the bubbles). There is a fiber optic lamp thing that changes colors slowly. VERY relaxing. There's also a stoplight that switches colors. Of course not ALL of these things are all on at the same time. We have a CD player / radio that plays classical music. Or, in the case of my student, praise and worship music because she loves that.
    Because her mom provided the CD, we're allowed to play that for her. There is a mat on the floor, the child can lay on the mat, or there is a papasan chair (it's like a bubble chair?) with a massage feature.

    You can get a TON of stuff from ebay (stoplight thing, fish tube thing, etc.) and the dollar store is great for the small tactile toys and other pegboard items. The items were attached to the pegboard with a bungie cord so the kids can kind of "surf" the pegboard to see all of the available options. Pegboard was from Home Depot and if I am remembering right, it was less than $10.

    Here are some great links for some cheaper stuff that I posted on another forum in regards to the sensory room I set up:

    $9.99 Lava Lamp (generally needs supervision if students tend to throw or damage things) http://www.generationstore.com/8ozacyewaxwi.html
    $5.49 Fiber Optic Lamp (same thing, needs supervision) http://tekgems.com/Products/et-20276-con-6151a.htm
    Varying prices --- for a kid who LOVES balls, all of these "squish" balls are great sensory toys: http://www.officeplayground.com/balls.html?engine=adwords!8540&keyword=%28squish+balls%29&match_type={ifcontent:content}&gclid=CN2e7pKsyZECFVB1OAodMwdhnQ
    $69.99 Massage cushion -- I'd be sure students like this sensation before buying this, I know some of my kids live for it and some of them are terrified of it: http://www.feelgoodstore.com/cgi-bin/feelgood/postkey_find.html?cm_mmc=channel-_-engine-_-media-_-72522&keywords=72522&media=GF0566&ci_src=14110944&ci_sku=72522
    $13.49 Rain stick toy http://www.growingtreetoys.com/product/5724
    $7.99 Waterfall tube http://www.officeplayground.com/waterftubernbw.html?gclid=CLGzh-6syZECFQwsOAodC0HNng
    $19.99 Traffic Light http://www.cheapnovelty.com/kids-traffic-light.html
    $59.99 fun bean bag chair thing http://www.beanbags.com/video-rockers/sports-themes/collegelogovideobeanbag.cfm
    $29.99 fun orbital chair -- if students are under 100 lbs http://www.leapsandbounds.com/catalog/product.jsp?productId=494775
    Just a few starter ideas....... sensory stuff is endless!
     
  8. teachersk

    teachersk Connoisseur

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    Aug 10, 2008

    Oh, and I think that providing the sensory input on a non-contingent schedule is the best way to go. And, as someone mentioned above, you can ALSO use it as a reward - my students liked it so much that they would finish their work so quickly to "earn" time in the "night room." Another thing I did to keep it interesting was to rotate stuff in and out. You can make the room as "overstimulating" or "understimulating" as necessary. Some kids benefit from the complete "everything on" type set up -- where there is a flashing stoplight, water tube moving up and down, jingle bells on their wrists, black light on, lava lamps on full blast, etc. --- while other kids do well with just one lava lamp on, a stuffed animal in their lap, and quiet music playing from the CD player in the background.... You probably know your students well enough to know what to set up for each individual student.
     
  9. sarypotter

    sarypotter Comrade

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    Aug 11, 2008

    "The night room," that's cute!

    Thanks for all the great ideas! I'm going to have to add things a piece at a time, but these are some great ideas to get me started.

    Now does anyone have ideas on how to explain the need for this room to my supervisor? Because if I can explain it, maybe she can help me find supplies (likely) or money (less likely) for it.

    Thanks!
     
  10. sarypotter

    sarypotter Comrade

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    Aug 11, 2008

    Oh, another question:

    This is kind of specific. One of my students craves pressure, to the point that she presses her hands to her face so tightly she bruises her eyes, and she presses her elbows into her legs so hard her legs bleed. I'm trying to think of something that will give her that sensory input she's seeking to replace those SIBs. I would love to find a few things for the sensory room like a weighted blanket, a body sock, maybe something soft or squishy she can press her elbows into. Any other ideas?
     
  11. teachersk

    teachersk Connoisseur

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    Aug 11, 2008

    Sensory Integration improved the behaviors of 91% of kids (study by Temple University) http://www.temple.edu/newsroom/2007_2008/04/stories/aota.htm

    Link from Abilitations on the reasoning behind "Multi Sensory Rooms" -- http://www.abilitations.com/multisensory/multisensory.jsp

    I find it surprising that a special education supervisor is not knowledgeable of how important sensory integration is for students with autism. Almost every child with autism has some sort of sensory issue that could be improved with a sensory room.

    (Maybe this is just your school supervisor, someone who is not in the SPED field? If this is the case, I'd go for an autism coordinator, special education coordinator, or someone higher up that is knowledgeable in Special Education).

    Sensory activities help a child's body and mind stay focused and organized throughout the day.

    For the kid who likes pressure -I would look into getting a deep pressure vest. http://www.adaptivechild.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdID=4

    Another idea for her is to get a blanket or mat and roll her up in it, like a burrito. Be sure her head is outside of the blanket or mat so that you can see her at all times, do it gently, but firmly. Kids who crave pressure love this type of activity.

    Another option is a swing that provides the pressure - this might not be in your budget - seems like you'll have the space, though! Something like the one in this picture: http://bp2.blogger.com/_3F29Ux1ks0s/SHTayG0ov1I/AAAAAAAAAUk/2GBiAnZ7CM8/s1600-h/b-days,+yard,+fun+kids+002.jpg that "hugs" the child.... Those provide GREAT pressure.
     
  12. Chokita

    Chokita Comrade

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    Aug 11, 2008

    Does anybody have any ideas how I can create sensory activities using water for kids that like how the water feels? I can't think of anything besides washing hands or washing dishes. I know that water can really calm down some of the students with autism.
    My students are 8-10 y.o. So preschool type water play is not an option. It has to be something age appropriate.
     
  13. Budaka

    Budaka Cohort

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    Aug 11, 2008

    You could get(or even make) one of those water tables where students make dams and control the flow of the water. You could make it age appropriate. I have a brother who is autistic and I know he enjoyed water play a lot.
     
  14. sarypotter

    sarypotter Comrade

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    Aug 11, 2008

    It seems to me that the people in my district, who are very concerned and well-meaning and who have heard of many interventions for students with autism, are nonetheless knowledgeable about few. Everyone seems a little lost when it comes to kids on the spectrum -- a little lost and a little hopeless, which is sad. It's difficult to get anyone behind an idea; they sort of throw up their hands and imply that it probably won't work anyway. For the most part, they all seem very discouraged. Hopefully not everyone feels this way, or maybe I can put a few things into action and show them results to get them on board. They're great, willing, supportive people, but they seem a little doubtful about my "crazy new ideas," research-based or not!

    Thanks for all the great ideas and resources! I'm getting excited about setting up my sensory room! It will be pretty meager at first, until I figure out just who to talk to about getting a little help. At first, it will consist of black bulletin board paper on the walls, some shiny foil stuff on one wall, a mirror, some squishy balls, various textures of fabric scraps, some pillows, and soft lighting via those cheap moon-shaped push night lights like you get at Dollar Tree. It will grow from there.

    Thanks again!
     
  15. Teach96

    Teach96 Comrade

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    Aug 11, 2008


    My two Autistic students are on a routine also. One has a timer on his desk and every 30 minutes he picks a popsicle stick with a sensory activity from his "sensory diet"
    • pullups
    • sit ups
    • crab walk
    • leg lifts
    • office delivery
    • back massager
    • etc.
    • Yoga

    The other student takes a break after every 3 activities he accomplishes. He also picks a stick from the list of activities from his "sensory diet".

    We are working on a routine so that they learn to increase the time in between the need for a sensory break. We are happy with 30-60 minute intervals. This would be expectable in the work environment.

    __________
    my blog....www.lifeskilllessons.com/blog
     
  16. Ghost

    Ghost Habitué

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    Aug 11, 2008

    Try getting a tight stocking cap for her head....the pressure vest is an awesome idea, but only leave it on for 20 minutes at a time. You could also roll her up in an exercise mat and press gently on her. I have some wide rubber bracelet/cuffs that one of my girls would put on all the way up her arm. For her legs or arms, you could get a pair of tights for her to wear (cut the legs off for arms). Work with your OT and learn how to give deep pressure and joint compression---which is what it sounds like she wants with her elbows. You can also roll her up in a blanket or sleeping bag. I tend to sit the kids in front of my and squeeze their legs gently, then slowly pull their knees up to their chests. It helps a lot!
     
  17. arnolamy

    arnolamy Rookie

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    Aug 13, 2008

    Wow...you guys have some really great ideas! I am going to try and incorporate some of them into my room!!! Thanks
     
  18. sarypotter

    sarypotter Comrade

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    Aug 13, 2008

    Great ideas! I'm especially grateful for all the specific input about my student for whom I desperately need ideas! I will try a lot of these ideas and hopefully find something she likes. Thanks!
     
  19. southgaguy

    southgaguy Rookie

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    Aug 13, 2008

    I have a sensory room. We primarily use it for the autistic kids. We have a ball pit. We have christmas lights strung everywhere. We use garland as well and streamers. There is a peanut in there for them to bounce on and a "pea" station. It's a table that when u remove the top it is full of peas. The kids can play around in there with their hands and cups. The kids REALLY love this room. We have a CD player setup in there playing nature sounds when they play. The cd varies from day to day. Hope that helps.
     
  20. David1

    David1 New Member

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    Mar 15, 2010

    no

    wow
     
  21. David1

    David1 New Member

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    Mar 16, 2010

    good
     

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