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El Paso, TX: More and more sensory rooms for the kids with sensory disorders

Oct 16, 2018, El Paso (TX) Times: Rooms with swings, disco balls help El Paso students with autism, sensory disorders Adrianna Alatorre tries to help her son, Ryan, manage his autism at home. Things like weighted blankets and dim lighting help Ryan calm down after too much stimulation. But Alatorre, a nurse, said there are times when Ryan needs another outlet. "I can tell he’s looking for some kind of input at home and just doesn’t have it, doesn’t have that outlet," Alatorre said about the types of activities that help her son stay calm and concentrate. Alatorre is among dozens of parents of children with sensory disorders in the El Paso Independent School District who now have access to a spot to refocus and center themselves before getting to the point of shutting down from being overstimulated or overwhelmed. Four campuses in EPISD — Lincoln Middle and Newman, Herrera and Moreno elementary schools — have sensory rooms, or spaces where students who have conditions ranging from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, to autism can be prescribed time to "feed their sensory diet." Both the Ysleta and Soccoro independent school districts also have sensory rooms at a number of campuses. Socorro has rooms in at least 20 campuses, and the Ysleta has several as well, officials said. Big swings, colorful lights help EPISD students stay cool and collected. The students who can access the room have sensory disorders and may have trouble processing things that can interfere with everyday life. Students with sensory disorders are highly attuned to the sights, smells and textures around them and can get overwhelmed. The sensory room helps kids overcome those overwhelming feelings by offering them a set of sensation-based tools to stay calm and focused. At Lincoln, about 10 students use the room as part of their daily schedule. While in the room, students can sit, lay, swing, make noise and move around. That allows them to release tension and return to the classroom more calm and focused. For some, a few minutes in the sensory room means fewer meltdowns in the classroom…. Sensory rooms started popping up in EPISD about two years ago, officials said…. While in the room, students can choose from a number of stations that help feed and regulate the sensory feelings a child might be missing or craving.


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