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  #1  
Old 08-10-2008, 06:22 PM
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sarypotter sarypotter is offline
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K-3 Special Education
Sensory Room Ideas?

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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  #2  
Old 08-10-2008, 07:22 PM
Dthig65 Dthig65 is offline
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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.
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Old 08-10-2008, 07:25 PM
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inhisgrip20 inhisgrip20 is offline
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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.
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Old 08-10-2008, 07:29 PM
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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
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  #5  
Old 08-10-2008, 08:27 PM
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teacherpippi teacherpippi is offline
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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.
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  #6  
Old 08-10-2008, 09:30 PM
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teachersk teachersk is offline
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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/ball...FVB1OAodMwdhnQ
$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...4&ci_sku=72522
$13.49 Rain stick toy http://www.growingtreetoys.com/product/5724
$7.99 Waterfall tube http://www.officeplayground.com/wate...FQwsOAodC0HNng
$19.99 Traffic Light http://www.cheapnovelty.com/kids-traffic-light.html
$59.99 fun bean bag chair thing http://www.beanbags.com/video-rocker...deobeanbag.cfm
$29.99 fun orbital chair -- if students are under 100 lbs http://www.leapsandbounds.com/catalo...oductId=494775
Just a few starter ideas....... sensory stuff is endless!
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Old 08-10-2008, 09:33 PM
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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.
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  #8  
Old 08-11-2008, 03:39 AM
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sarypotter sarypotter is offline
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K-3 Special Education
"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!
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  #9  
Old 08-11-2008, 03:46 AM
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sarypotter sarypotter is offline
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K-3 Special Education
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?
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  #10  
Old 08-11-2008, 05:51 AM
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teachersk teachersk is offline
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Sensory Integration improved the behaviors of 91% of kids (study by Temple University) http://www.temple.edu/newsroom/2007_...ories/aota.htm

Link from Abilitations on the reasoning behind "Multi Sensory Rooms" -- http://www.abilitations.com/multisen...ltisensory.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.a...WPROD&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/...n+kids+002.jpg that "hugs" the child.... Those provide GREAT pressure.
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