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Gonzales, LA: Elem school add sensory room for students with autism, oppositional defiant disorder..

Sept 9, 2021, Pelican Post, Ascension Parish, Gonzales, LA: Spanish Lake Primary Sensory Room provided by Ascension Fund

All students deserve access to a public education, but for students with disabilities, the public school setting can be overwhelming. For students who have struggles such as Autism and Oppositional Defiant Disorder, their emotional outbursts, sensory needs, and behavior issues can sometimes be a barrier to them fully participating in a classroom with their peers. This project hopes to reduce that barrier by providing students with a space that is dedicated fully to their emotional and sensory needs. Before this space was set up, students with emotional outbursts may have had to be removed to go to ISSP or the principal’s office, and miss out on crucial instruction. Hope Novak, one of the special education teachers, says “I love that we’ve been able to provide a calm place for our students to decompress and be more ready for learning. When we can schedule their sensory breaks as part of their daily routine, we can make sure they don’t have to miss and play catchup on instructional time!” Already there are multiple students across grade levels who use the sensory room daily as part of their behavior plan, and the increase in learning time for the students has been significant. Funds for the grant were provided by Vulcan Materials through the Ascension Fund. The Ascension Fund is a non-profit organization established in 1991 by the Gonzales Rotary Club as an instrument for private sector leaders to invest directly in the work of individual teachers and schools through grants for innovative ideas and programs in Ascension Parish public schools. Teacher grants of $500, $1,000 and School Impact Grants of $2,500 are awarded on an annual competitive basis. To date, the Ascension Fund has awarded approximately 1,400 grants representing over $1.65 million dollars in the school system.

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