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San Benito, TX: 363 students have autism/developmental disabilities

April 26, 2024, San Benito (TX) News: Sensory rooms discussed at meeting


The San Benito CISD School Board of Trustees met on Tuesday, April 16, 2024 for the board’s regularly scheduled meeting.

After the recognition of students, staff and parents, a presentation on autism was delivered by the District’s Director of Special Services, Larissa Rivas-Leal, District Occupational Therapist, Bettina Cisneros and Stephanie Aguilar, Autism Specialist, in acknowledgment of Autism Awareness Month.

The presentation provided an emphasis on care for the students with developmental disabilities within the San Benito school district. The presenters provided a vision which included sensory rooms for the 363 students within the district identified as students with autism and developmental disabilities.

The sensory rooms would greatly benefit the students who suffer from sensory processing difficulties, according to Cisneros. The students who have had the opportunity to use these sensory rooms have benefitted from increased focus, attention and self-regulation.

Overall the sensory rooms have been an incredible success for students with autism and developmental disorders, according to the presentors.

Board president Orlando Lopez then asked how exactly sensory rooms for students would be financed. The cost for these sensory rooms is about $3,000, according to Larissa, a fraction of the usual $15,000-$20,000 a sensory room could cost. . . .

Several years ago, the Special Education Department noticed a rise in students diagnosed with being on the autism spectrum within the district, according to Dr. Lucas Gomez, Principal of La Paloma Elementary. . . .

This was the impetus to find meaningful ways for students to minimize sensory input if they are at a point of being overloaded. Special Education staff realized that it would be beneficial to look into developing a soothing place at each campus for students called a sensory room.

Sensory rooms offer a safe and controlled environment for students with sensory processing difficulties to regulate their sensory input, aiding them to focus and to begin calming themselves, which leads them to optimizing their individual capabilities for learning and becoming more self-directed, according to Dr. Gomez.

The rooms promote the inclusivity of special needs students by providing a resource for them to fully participate in school activities. Addressing students’ unique sensory challenges can improve academic performance and overall well-being, according to experts. . . .



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