Lauderdale County School System updating sensory rooms in elementary schools

WAFF's Jasmyn Cornell reporting
Published: Apr. 5, 2023 at 11:02 AM CDT
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LAUDERDALE Co., Ala. (WAFF) - The Lauderdale County School District is updating sensory rooms in their elementary schools to help students with disabilities.

According to Tammy Smallwood, Behavior Interventionist of Lauderdale County Schools, many students have sensory processing issues, which include auditory, visual, and/or tactile sensitivity. She says they need specific inputs or outputs to regulate their senses.

Currently, the district has different sensory rooms across the county. A sensory room was recently updated at Lauderdale County Elementary, and it has been beneficial to the students.

The rooms are specially designed to combine a range of stimuli to help students develop and engage their senses. They can include lights, colors, sounds, and aromas. All tools are used within a safe environment that allows the child to explore and interact without risk.

”[We] try to stick with blues a lot. Blue is what we paint the wall... We have some padding on the walls that is just [for] safety purposes [and] for where we have like our trampolines. There’s little trampolines, [so] kids [who] need that extra movement can jump,” said Smallwood. “The floors are matted... Of course, safety is always at the forefront.”

School leaders say each room costs between $3,500 and $6,000 to equip, depending on the size of the room and the needs to be met.

Smallwood says there’s a need for these updated sensory rooms in the schools. Not only are they beneficial for students with sensory processing disorders but they’re also helpful for those who have ADHD and anxiety. She adds that they are great for kids who just need to blow off a little steam.

“We use the sensory rooms for those purposes where students have a place to, you know, go calm down if they need to. They can use it to to have movement if they need that input to regulate, you know, their bodies... It’s not just for sensory processing disorder,” said Smallwood.

The goal is to have an updated, state-of-the-art sensory room in every Lauderdale County elementary school by the end of 2024, according to school leaders. After they finish updating the sensory rooms in the elementary schools, they will start updating the high schools.

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