Dec 5, 2022, Town Square Delaware: School sensory room aims to build disabled students’ skills https://townsquaredelaware.com/sensory-room-to-build-disabled-students-skills/
A New Castle County school has debuted a sensory room designed to help disabled students better recognize things they see, hear and touch – and become more confident in acting on that information.
Colonial School District’s John G. Leach School is home to 88 special needs students, ranging in age from 3 to 22.
Their needs range widely, one reason Principal Ginny Schreppler says the school continues to push itself to be at the cutting edge of specialized education with things like a sensory room.
“We are a restrictive environment, but that’s because every single one of our students here has needs and they are the 1% of the population,” she said. “We can provide a really high staff to student ratio and intensive wraparound and therapeutic services.”
That ratio is three to one.
The school’s new sensory room, which cost about $22,500, was converted from a storage room. …
Many of the Leach students are severely disabled, and almost none can talk or converse with others in a typical way, Schreppler said….
Leach already had a calm room for overstimulated students.
Winkler said the sensory room also helps with student anxiety, but that’s not its main point. “Just like going to the gym, your senses need to be exercised,” Winkler said. “Some students don’t even realize the capabilities they have until they try and actually test out their senses.”…
Staff members are asked to enter a calm state themselves before entering the sensory room with a student. They also are asked to limit any additional sensory stimulants, and that includes turning off all devices.
Two students can be in the sensory room at a single time, and their visits typically are brief. “10 to 15 minutes tops will be needed for somebody to stimulate their brain, and then they go back to the classroom a little bit more ready to learn,” Winkler said. …
She said the biggest challenge in creating individualized education for each student is communication.
“A lot of times our students don’t interact in a traditional communication method, so especially with our newer students it takes us a little bit of time to unlock what their behaviors and their actions are telling us,” she said.
The school itself needs more space to remain innovative.
Winkler said school officials already are working on the design of a new building that will give them room to create more need-specific spaces like the sensory room.
JOHN G. LEACH’S TOM WINKLER GUIDES STUDENT GRAYSON OTTO’S HAND AS HE MAKES MUSIC USING THE DIGITAL BOARD IN THE SCHOOL’S SENSORY ROOM. (JAREK RUTZ / DELAWARE LIVE NEWS)