My classroom consists of eight 3rd-4th grade students with autism, ranging from those who are learning to express their needs to those who can join a mainstream classroom. Autism spectrum disorders affect the way the brain processes incoming and outgoing information and one area that is often overlooked for students with autism is the area of sensory processing.
Have you ever felt anxious, overwhelmed or not able to focus? This could have been a “sensory overload”. If you have experienced "sensory overload", or "information overload", you may have an idea of what children on the autism spectrum may experience on a regular basis. Too much sensory information can cause stress anxiety and possibly physical pain. This can result in meltdowns, challenging behaviors, or simple withdrawals.
To accommodate some of their sensory needs, Dr. Lazar gave me permission to set up a “sensor room” in one of the school's conference rooms. This room is a work in progress. So far, there are donated items from friends, family members, and school colleagues. Our little nook was built out of a cardboard box we saw in the hallway.
The sensory room will help facilitate self-regulation, relaxation and sensory awareness. We have scheduled in the use of the sensory room into our daily routine. Knowing and learning how to regulate one's own behaviors and responses to the immediate environment, is crucial and essential to being able to navigate the world around us.