Whether it’s a computer for a secretary or a hammer for a carpenter, we all have tools that we require in order to do our jobs effectively.
It’s no different for the clients at Ranch Ehrlo’s Learning Centre in Regina, a program that offers individuals aged 16+ with complex needs ongoing vocational, social, and life skills development. Most of the young adults at the Centre have been diagnosed with autism, FASD, and other complex neurological disorders which lead to issues with sensory processing.
“A lot of times when we’re asking them to do job tasks or different activities, those sensory systems interrupt, making it hard for them to focus or move forward in their plans,” explained Learning Center manager Michelle Schwabe.
Their needs may look different, but it’s no less important that we ensure they have the tools they need to effectively get through their day. One of the ways we do so is the newly developed sensory rooms at the Learning Centre. Specifically, a sensory room helps aid sensory development by guiding individuals through various challenges to target their sensory ability to correctly respond to sensory information.
If someone becomes agitated, they have a relaxing environment with low lights, soft seating, and calming displays at their disposal. A fibre optic curtain adds a tactile component as the tubes can be held while clients observe the changing colours, and a Bluetooth speaker is available to fill the room with calming music.
“Just like you and I – the sensory space allows them to relax, and before you know it, they’re back into the zone,” Michelle said.
If they need to be brought up from a low state, a bright room with an image of a summer sky on the roof has a ball pit, a swing, and a trampoline, amongst other activities, available to assist. The walls in this room are sand-coloured and textured, again providing tactile stimulation.
In both cases, staff monitor clients’ responses to the sensory equipment and are aware of the individual effects caused. Once they return to their baseline – the optimal level of sensory functioning – they are able to resume their daily tasks.