What is a Sensory Room in a therapeutic school environment?

  • Found in a Serendipity classroom

  • Students taking a movement break

  • Our Sensory Room as it is now, in October 2023

A sensory room is a space where students can explore their sensory needs and learn about what helps them feel regulated throughout the day. Students might need movement, as well as audio, visual, and tactile experiences that provide different types of sensory input. Items such as bubble tubes, squeeze seats, and various interactive surfaces provide calming sensory input to students who are overwhelmed by the demands of the school day.

The sensory room is a space where the child gets to lead. By exploring the various sensory environments, they have the opportunity to control their sensory experience and learn how their bodies respond to different sensory input. As they learn what feels calming to them, they begin to recognize their own needs and build their self-regulation skills.

Time spent in a sensory room has been shown to increase concentration, focus, and attention. Sensory rooms improve alertness, creativity, social relations and communications, and enhance general awareness of the surrounding world. The various auditory, visual, and tactile stimuli help students who struggle with sensory processing or hyperactivity increase their concentration and participation.

Given the opportunity to learn what regulates them, students can better understand and advocate for their own needs. When regulated, they have improved information processing making a significant impact on their ability to learn and engage with their teachers and peers.

At Serendipity:

We use individual coaching to help students advocate for their needs throughout the school day. This space represents a critical opportunity for students to advocate for their sensory needs. We have dreamed for years of having a sensory space available to all students when they need it.

In 2022, we embarked on a fundraising campaign to make our sensory room dream a reality! Emily, our Special Education Coordinator, worked with an inter-disciplinary team to determine how this space could be transformed into a therapeutic haven for our students. She remarked,

“Our students come to us with a range of sensory processing needs. They can’t sit still all day. They must take breaks, but there isn’t always a productive place for them to go. When they do not have somewhere to take a break that helps regulate them, we see more challenging behaviors and lower engagement in academics. If they have a chance to take a break in a calming environment, they can learn the skills they need to return to the classroom calm and ready to learn.”