These are challenging times, so we wanted to share an uplifting story. Hilsden House recently received an upgrade.

A sensory room was created for the boys at Hilsden, who range in age from eight to 12. Many of them have delays in gross and fine motor skills, and several have been diagnosed with Attention Deficient Hyperactive Disorder.

The room is designed to provide another tool to tackle these issues.

“It’s new and we’re trying to figure out how to work it with staff, but right now we’re finding that it’s really beneficial as a proactive intervention rather than reactive,” explained caseworker Sydney Campbell.

Caseworkers are a valuable part of the treatment team at Ranch Ehrlo, providing clinical assessments, counselling, treatment plans, advocacy, team training, case management, group, and family work.

The boys have scheduled time in the room, which includes a swing, a climbing wall, a peg board, and various differently shaped and textured objects to work on balance and coordination. There is also a swing and fibre optic lights for tactile and visual stimulation.

While not every youth requires occupational therapy, many do – so we have occupational therapists available to help address those needs.

“The occupational therapist, Louise, was consulted during the design phase of the build,” Sydney added. “She was able to speak to where the youth were developmentally in terms of their motor skills, so we made sure to touch base with her and get her input from the assessments to understand what would be the most beneficial.”

Each youth will use the room a little differently depending on their own individualized needs.

More than just a space to burn off energy and build motor skills, the sensory room is also space where caseworkers can take the youth to talk. The distractions provided often allow them to open up more freely than they would in a traditional office setting.

“Our guys don’t really respond the best to talk therapy, so we can come in here and have a session just focusing on building those skills rather than focusing on stuff that might be a dialogue,” Sydney said.

Quiet time is okay, too.

“If you’re just hanging out with a boy listening to some crashing waves, he’s swinging and you’re sitting on that beanbag – just that feeling of being with another human being and knowing that you’re safe, I think it’s a great relationship building piece,” she added.

“They love it – the kids have responded (well). They’re very excited about it. They ask to go into it all the time and stuff like that, so it’s awesome,” added incoming caseworker Jenna Kozan.