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Orange Cty, CA: SPED teacher sees benefit of sensory room for autistic kids

June 19, 2018, Orange County Register: Play environment at Sunset Lane Elementary designed with sensory needs in mind Sunset Lane Elementary School Teacher Amy Jahn saw a need. Jahn, a special day classes teacher who works with children on the autism spectrum, said she noticed that while children frolicked on playground equipment on campus, many of her students stood unengaged to the side. Sunset Lane’s recently unveiled sensory room is changing that. Constructed inside a regular classroom, the sensory room consists of eight stations, each designed to engage the senses in a different way. There is a touch wall for tactile input; multiple sensory bins filled with materials of varying textures; a squishy corner, which is akin to a giant pillow; medicine balls; light-up bubble tubes; and an outdoor garden area. Some stations have a calming effect and others provide stimulation. “The majority of children on the spectrum have sensory processing disorders,” said Summer Dabbs, director of Fullerton Cares, a nonprofit that raises awareness and helps fund a variety of special needs programs within the Fullerton School District. “They can’t process the information they take in through their senses. The brain doesn’t process it the way it should.” As a result, they can become upset, anxious, aggressive or withdraw, especially in heavily populated and noisy environments, Dabbs said. After spending some time in the sensory room, the children are calm, organizers said. “When they go back in the classroom, they are ready to learn” said Larry Howser, founder of Fullerton Cares, whose son Boyd is on the autism spectrum….

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