June 3, 2019, Altoona (PA) Mirror: School plans sensory classroom—Speciality equipment will help students with autism http://www.altoonamirror.com/uncategorized/2019/06/school-plans-sensory-classroom/ Soon children with autism at Allison Park Elementary School (Houston, PA) will get a specially made sensory classroom and carts filled with sensory toys. Autism Open, a Washington-based nonprofit that raises money for individuals affected by autism, donated roughly $10,000 to create custom carts and a classroom. Courtney Cavanaugh, executive director and one of the founders, said the carts will be filled with fidget toys. The intent is for the items to assist children with staying focused, while making behaviors less disruptive in the classroom. “The carts are basically little stools that the children can put under their desk and wiggle in a circle,” Cavanaugh said. “It allows the kids who normally can’t sit still the opportunity to move while they’re not bothering anyone in the classroom.” The toys inside the cart include balls, clay, putty, sensory gloves, brushes, balls that can be squished and chewing toys that the students can put on top of their erasers. “There will be enough carts for each grade level,” Cavanaugh said. “By allowing these kids the opportunity to fidget at their desk with toys, they have a higher opportunity to stay focused and not disrupt the class.” One of the main reasons the sensory carts were created is so the children can stay inside the regular classrooms and allow the teachers to continue teaching without disruptions. … The sensory classroom will be built over summer and ready for next school year. The classroom will have different items for the children to go to throughout the day such as swings, weighted blankets and other fidget toys. Cavanaugh said this will be able to help students get their energy out when they “need a break” from the regular classroom. Later the student can return to the regular classroom to continue learning throughout the day. … According to Autism Open’s website, the organization has raised close to $260,000 for children and families affected by autism since 2010. Over the nine years, Autism Open has purchased four autism service dogs, several iPads and sensory items like swings, weighted blankets and fidget toys…. The sensory classroom and carts will be ready to use for next school year.