Physical, mental, emotional needs met with sensory room
Different equipment suits different needs at Cassville primary
With changes campus-wide for the Cassville school district, an opportunity to build a sensory room in the primary building presented itself, and the district took the opportunity.
Dusty Reid, director of facilities and operations, said the idea was developed in the special services program.
“The room was once a preschool room,” he said. “But, as those classes moved to the new early childhood center, we were able to make different uses of these rooms.
“We painted, fixed lighting and reinforced some areas in the drop ceiling so we could hang some swings.”
In addition, staff installed carpet, and installed wall pads that the district already had in different locations around the campus.
Kendale Ellis, Cassville process coordinator, said the sensory room is a place for any student, special education or not, to have their sensory needs met.
“Kids have different needs and we have an appropriate way to get those sensory needs met,” she said.
Drake Thomas, Eunice Thomas elementary instructional assistant, said 15-20 students use the sensory room each day.
“The primary students use it the most,” he said. “But, any student on campus can use it.”
The room is full of different equipment that students can use to expel energy, distract themselves, or even just shut down for a time if they need to.
“There is an area that is dark and kids use that to calm down,” he said. “We have the rocking chair with weighted blankets, the jellyfish tank and different colored lights.
“A child’s bad day isn’t just one event — it is a snowball of events and emotions. This room helps them to take their mind off of things and regroup.”
Equipment for physical and emotional needs help facilitate any need of any student.
“Most students only need the room for a few minutes at a time,” Thomas said. “You can front-load a visit to the sensory room like that by saying, ‘Okay, you have 7-10 minutes.’ The students know they have that special amount of time to work out what they need.”
Thomas said it is often the same students who need and use the room, but occasionally they see a new face.
Sally Knight, Cassville K-2 special education teacher, said her students come to the sensory room for a number of different reasons and needs.
“Sometimes, it is to be more alert and to regain their energy and focus,” she said. “Sometimes, it is used if a student is a little too excited in class and they come here to let that out.”
Knight said the students are usually very happy and engaged when in the room.
“They can’t get this in a regular classroom setting,” she said. “We are very fortunate to have this room. The room is really used based on what the child’s need is at the time.”
The sensory room in the Cassville primary building opened at the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year and has gradually been built up.