ATHENS, Ala. (WHNT) – Students in Limestone County are back in the classroom this week. However, for some students, the lights, posters, noises, and activity can be overwhelming.
That’s where sensory classrooms come in. They aren’t your typical classroom, everything in the room can offer some kind of relief for a student.
“It’s a place that they can go and either expel energy that they have, or they can just simply calm,” says Stacey Givens, founder of the Make a Way Foundation. For her, the mission to build sensory rooms in schools is personal.
“My son is autistic, and at four years old we discovered how powerful sensory therapy was for him,” she explained.
For students with extra energy, the space includes a trampoline, spinning wheel, crash mats, and a tumbling roll. For those looking for some calm, it offers soothing colors and music, a cocoon swing, and chill sacks with weighted blankets and weighted vests.
“And in this [cocoon swing], someone could spin, they could swing, or they could simply get in there and retreat from everything,” Givens stated. “[Weighted blankets, vests] are used for those individuals who like that hug, who need that sense of pressure, some of these individuals really respond to weight on their shoulders.”
The room is one of many just like it all over schools in Limestone County.
“We have built a total of 19 rooms,” Givens said. “That’s 7 in Athens city and the remaining in Limestone County.”
Givens says the rooms can serve children with many needs, not just autism. She says it’s important to recognize that typical classroom decorations and settings aren’t for everyone.
“Sensory Processing Disorder, ADD, ADHD, ODD (operational defiant disorder),” Givens added. “With all of the color and the bright lights, and everything hanging from the ceiling, that is overstimulating for so many kids.”
The sensory rooms that have been installed so far by the Make a Way Foundation are completely funded by donations. Now the foundation is waiting for the space to build in the remaining schools.
“We have the funds allocated for those two schools, and then we will have seamed up all of Limestone County,” she concluded.
To learn more about the sensory rooms and how they work, you can check the foundation’s website here.