A place to explore different textures, take a deep breath, and maybe lie on a soft floor too.
Sounds nice, doesn’t it?
We recently finished a special room in our Ketchikan office to allow our customers to do just that. Already, it’s proving to be a fantastic way for people to calm themselves down and focus on their goals.
The therapeutic “sensory room” provides a safe and supportive environment, specifically designed to help develop and engage the senses. Sensory rooms help individuals with learning difficulties, developmental disabilities, sensory impairments, or other sensory needs.
You can engage (most) of your senses while in the room: there are bird and nature sounds you can turn on, colorful lights in interesting patterns, and weighted blankets. There’s even a weighted stuffed snake too!
For people who might get restless just sitting in a chair, the sensory room is a great place to focus. Soft foam puzzle pieces cover the floor, which allows our customers to lie down.
“You can stretch out and wiggle around,” says Alice Weisgram, a Support Specialist in our Senior & Disability program. “It’s a place where you’re allowed to do that.”
Look around the room and see a water tube with bubbles and colorful plastic fish, a small tepee, unusually-shaped soft chairs, and baskets full of squishy and textured toys. They’re all meant to engage the senses, and some can help with improving balance and practicing fine motor skills. The most popular item by far is the weighted blanket, which can help children, and adults too, feel more secure and grounded.
Everyone we serve has their own individual goals, whether that’s to not grab or hit when they’re frustrated, or to make choices on an iPad to communicate their needs. It can be difficult for them to reach goals if they’re tense or anxious.
But in the sensory room, there’s space and tools to calm down and receive whatever sensory stimulation the customer needs.
“It’s been really successful in calming [our customers], and preventing behaviors,” says Lela Raymond, a Service Coordinator in our Senior & Disability program.
People receiving services through any of our programs (Early Learning, Children’s Mental Health, and Senior & Disability Services) are able to use the room.
The room can hold a few people at a time, so there’s the opportunity for folks to play together and interact. People and children with disabilities may not have many opportunities to hang out with peers. This room opens up that possibility, especially for people who are non-mobile (can’t physically move around by themselves).
The room has been used to great success already, and we’re sure that the benefits to the people we serve will continue to multiply.
PSA time! We’re always looking for more items to add to the sensory room, as equipment is used and wears out. If you have any pairs of big old jeans (for us to make more weighted blanket type items) or silicone rubbing brushes, bring ‘em by!
And if you haven’t seen the room yet, we invite you to come by our Ketchikan office and check it out! (Ask for Sandra).