Sensory Rooms Support Learning

Heightened senses often accompany Autism Spectrum Disorders and can become too large of a distraction from learning in the classroom. For this reason, The School for Asperger’s/HFA at Trident Academy provides its students with a sensory room during the school day.

“Imagine bugs crawling all over you, that you just finished eating a jalapeño pepper, and the fire alarm is going off – all at the same time. That is what we would describe as a high period,” explains Nicole McLain, Director of The School for Asperger’s/HFA. “Think about what you would need in order to calm down from that experience. The sensory room provides that relief.”

Students are scheduled to spend 10 minutes in the sensory room each afternoon, accompanied by an Occupational Therapist or a Trident Academy teacher. While in the sensory room, students can choose the element that helps calm or energize them. They may choose to jump onto a crash pad or into the ball pit, relax in a cuddle swing, or further explore their senses with the lights dimmed or music quietly playing.

“We really want to teach the students to be self-advocates,” Mrs. McLain explains. “That means helping each student understand when he or she needs a sensory break and the strategies that help. Time spent in the Sensory Room often helps the student refocus and better participate in class.”

Create a Sensory Room at Home
Building a Sensory Room at home requires little space if it is for only one child. A hammock, beanbag chair, dim lights, or even a small space with padded pillows will work. The room or cozy cove should be designed around the child’s sensory needs.

For more information, contact Nicole McLain at


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