If you’re a special educator or occupational therapist, you’re probably well aware of the benefits of sensory spaces. Specially configured areas where children can explore their environments through visual, auditory and tactile experiences, “[sensory spaces] offer highly individualized experiences and serve individuals with a variety of disabilities including autism spectrum disorders, developmental disabilities, cerebral palsy and sensory processing disorders,” according to Karen Gallichio, Product Development Specialist at Enabling Devices.
When sensory spaces are created in schools, they have additional benefits, according to Edutopia, an online education source founded by filmmaker George Lucas. Edutopia recently reported on a sensory room that was created in 2017 for students with special needs in the Meriden School District in Meriden, Conn.
Before the sensory room was created, students with special needs in the Meriden district had to be sent outside of their home schools in order to receive the services they required. Meriden’s Director of Pupil Personnel Patricia Sullivan-Kowalski, told Edutopia that this practice “resulted in students feeling less connected to their community. By creating their own sensory room,” said Sullivan-Kowalski, “administrators gained the ability to keep students in their community and provide them with a safe place in a least restrictive environment.”
Surprisingly, the sensory room in Meriden also saved the school district money. According to Edutopia, “Setting up a sensory room costs less than sending students out for services.”
Additionally, administrators soon found that the sensory room was helpful to all students, not just students with disabilities. Says Edutopia’s School Selection Coordinator Peter Poutiatine: “We often find that practices designed to meet the needs of the most challenging students in a school are effective for all kids.”
Perhaps you’ve imagined how wonderful it would be to have a sensory space in your classroom or school but assumed it would be prohibitively expensive or would require a great deal of square footage. But that’s not necessarily the case. In fact, you can create a sensory space for as little as a few hundred dollars and it can be located in a spare closet, an alcove or even a vinyl tent. Why not start small and build out as funding and space become available. For additional free quotes, design services and fundraising ideas, visit Enabling Devices’ website. In the meantime, here are 12 product suggestions of items under $100 to get you started.
- Bean Bag Chair #1048W
- Scentifier (Aromatherapy Fan) #3210
- Sensational Tubes #8089
- Rope Lights #9039W
- Cosmic Liquid Tiles #3852W
- Double Disco Ball #1685
- Fiber Optic Sensory Light #3199
- Go Anywhere Light Show Go #3331
- LED Light Illuminator – Genesis Egg #9224
- Tubular Vibrator #1151A
- Gel Lap Pad #3142
- Vibrating Seal #9300