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Marfa, TX: Elem school gets $10,000 sensory room for SPED students

Nov 1, 2023, Big Bend Sentinel, Marfa, TX: Marfa schools hire new student success coordinator, build out sensory room for special education students

Marfa ISD School Board trustees met last week to review various school updates including the hiring of a student success coordinator and establishment of a grant-funded sensory room at the elementary campus for special education students....

Sensory room

White also shared information and led a tour for board members of the elementary school’s recently-completed sensory room, a classroom transformed into a relaxing space designed for special education students that is also open to any student in need.

Funded by a $10,000 grant from the Marfa Education Foundation, the space includes color-changing fiber optic light strands and a bubble tube machine as well as a swing, beanbags, projector and more. Fluorescent overhead lights are also muted to create a calmer environment.

In an interview with The Big Bend Sentinel, elementary special education teacher Rosie Martinez, who previously worked as an autism consultant in El Paso and San Antonio, said the room was specifically designed with autistic students, a growing population nationally, in mind.

(In 2020, 1 in 36 children was identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) compared to 1 in 150 in 2000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)

“Students living in the metropolitan areas have classrooms specialized for each specific disability, but in rural communities, we [lack that specificity],” said Martinez. “Because the prevalence rate of autism continues to increase, we felt the need to try to provide our students with the same equipment that larger schools have.”…

“Another reason [for the sensory room] is to provide a sense of calm and comfort which can help students to self-regulate their behaviors, which ultimately improves focus,” said Martinez.

For now, around five of the elementary special education students were primarily utilizing the space, said White. Alferez declined to provide the exact number of special education students currently enrolled at the elementary campus, citing student and family privacy concerns….


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