A new sensory room has been developed and implemented at Gaspé Elementary School. A sensory room is a place where students who have difficulty processing sensory input, who learn in a different way, can go to recenter themselves and be prepared for the setting of the classroom. The following is an excerpt describing the project from Beryl Boyle’s article in The Gaspé Spec, Volume 43(46) published on November 22, 2017 (found on page 7):
“Students with sensory processing issues often have trouble maintaining the proper level of alertness to complete the tasks involved in a regular school day. This can produce a great deal of anxiety and life at school can become overwhelming. As a consequence, these students often do not comply with behavior expectations and may be referred to the office.
More research is surfacing that suggests that children and youth with sensory processing issues would benefit from minor variations within their school day in order to feel calm alert and focused, in other words, to feel ready for learning. As a result of a recent visit to a school in Montreal, Gaspé Elementary School, in partnership with Vision Gaspé-Percé Now, decided to use this new research to create a space that could benefit all students, particularly those with sensory processing needs. That space is called a sensory room.
Our sensory room was designed with the guidance and expertise of Kayla Smith, an occupational therapist. She worked on a volunteer basis to help select the proper equipment for the room as well as to provide training on the best practices for using the room for the school staff of Gaspé Elementary School. The room includes different types of equipment carefully chosen to address different levels of alertness. If students are hypersensitive in the areas of touch, visual, vestibular, and auditory domains they are getting too much stimulation and can use the space to calm and become soothed in order to return to the classroom ready to learn.
Those students who are sensory-seeking would require more sensory input to feel ready to learn so the space caters to their needs with items such as a trampoline and mini rocking bowl. Many of these items were purchased at reasonable costs, however, a partnership with the Ville de Gaspé made it possible to purchase a therapeutic swing which would not have been possible without their generous donation.
Ultimately, these students have access to the space for short periods of time during the school day in the presence of an adult, either a teacher or special education technician, in order to address the processing issues that might be barriers to learning. I am very proud that Gaspé Elementary School is on the cutting edge of this research and that with the help of our partners, Vision Gaspé-Percé Now, Ville de Gaspé, and Kayla Smith, we are able to provide the sensory room as a prevention strategy for children.”