Calming Sensory Room Offers Respite at SIS Day Program

Person supported Dylan enjoys using the Stanly Industrial Service day program sensory room to choose an activity like the therapeutic putty.

Soft, twinkling lights line the back wall. The soothing sound of bubbling water ripples against colorful lights in a tall tower. Stanly Industrial Services (SIS) day program’s newly created sensory room is having a calming effect on both staff and people supported.

Occupational Therapist Amy Grout, OTL/R, who submitted a request for an internal Monarch grant for $2,500 to fund the project, has been pleased with the response.

The sensory room is situated off the main hall where attendees gather to socialize, play games and create artwork. Once inside the room, that was formerly Grout’s office, a quiet, relaxing haven awaits. Grout, working as an occupational therapist at SIS, spends almost all of her time interacting and not in an office, which she thought could be better used in a way to assist people supported.

SIS day program is a Monarch program, located in Albemarle, for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) offering activities such as art, singing, exercise, social events and outings. SIS staff also assist people supported with being active members within their communities through volunteer opportunities and employment.

A sensory room by definition stimulates the senses while aiming to provide a sense of calm. “The people that we support have limitations to achieving the kind of self-direction that most of us take for granted. Choices such as what to have for dinner or who to spend time with aren’t readily available to adults with I/DD,” Grout explains.

When the grant was approved, Grout and staff quickly planned and ordered anything needed to transform the room into a calming oasis including paint, chairs, lights, rolling cart and activities. She tasked any people supported who wanted to join the effort with specific jobs so that they would have ownership of the project. SIS attendees helped paint, put together the soft, comfortable chairs and assemble games, activity sets and sensory mats.

Person supported Dylan said he liked seeing the room’s transformation come to life: “It was good to help and put things together. I come in here and relax for a little while and feel good after.”

Anyone at SIS is invited to use the sensory room for 20- to 30-minute increments. Visitors use a visual timer to remind them when their time is finished. Items that the team decided to include in the sensory room enhance the senses such as headphones for listening to music, chairs that rock slightly and the bubble tower with water sounds to promote a sense of peacefulness.

Person supported Angel, Tony and Sara each take breaks in the sensory room and enjoy using the equipment. Angel uses the magnetic and alphabet boards to improve her fine motor skills. Tony, who helped assemble the colorful sensory mat, appreciates having designated space where he can take a break. “I like to come in here. It is relaxing,” he says. Sara enjoys the quiet atmosphere and especially the lights and visits about three times each day.

Grout is appreciative of donors who give generously to Monarch and who made the sensory room possible, noting that occupational therapy field, sensory rooms can cost upwards of $30,000. The entire grant total was used for the supplies to prepare the room and the equipment that people support are now enjoying, Grout reports.

To see and learn more about the SIS sensory room, click on the video below or watch here.

Posted on: Friday December 3, 2021