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Harlingen, TX: Sensory rooms opened at five elem schools; more planned

Oct 2, 2019, Harlingen (TX) Valley Star: ‘Safe and quiet’: Sensory rooms bring peace to special kids …Levi and several other children were spending time in the “Sensory Room” at Dr. Rodriguez Elementary School, one of five that just opened in the Harlingen school district. A sort of mystical quality seemed to pervade the dim-lit room, where a young girl toyed with small mini-lights and another swung in a cushioned chair. Jack Resendez, 4, gazed with transfixed fascination at bubbles rising through tubes while changing from red, to amber, to emerald green and lavender…. “It provides them a place to kind of relax and get what they need in an environment that’s safe and quiet,” Mancilla said. “They don’t have the sounds of the classrooms, the chairs, that type of thing.” Sensory rooms opened this school year at five elementary schools: Long, Ben Milam, Zavala, Sam Houston and Rodriguez. More are expected at other schools to fill a critical need, said Dan Garza, director of special education for the district. “We felt a lot of our kids had sensory needs that weren’t being met,” Garza said. “These are students who have trouble transitioning into the classroom, students who were having trouble focusing. So we knew something needed to be done.” Each sensory room cost between $10,000 and $15,000. Some of that was paid for through Tax Ratification Election funds. But the Harlingen Area Educational Foundation also provided a $1,000 grant for each room. Garza said the district was very grateful for this extra support…. Garza said. “A lot of times they can’t tell us what they need or what they’re feeling.”… A broad range of students use the room, including those in life skills classes. They may have autism, Down syndrome, or other intellectual challenges. They may have physical conditions like Jack, who suffers from spinal muscular atrophy….

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