Creating a well designed play and/or learning environment enables children to regulate their sensory systems, and successfully access their environments so they can learn and play at full capacity.
Children with special needs are often especially attuned to the deluge of sensory information that they are exposed to on a moment by moment basis. Children can present as over-reactive or under-reactive to environmental sensory stimuli. A hyper-sensitive sensory child might present as oversensitive to sound, movement, touch, smell, color and might exhibit behavior such as covering ears and avoiding texture and movement. A hypo-sensitive sensory child might present as under-reactive to sensory stimulus and might engage in shoving, crashing, banging, bumping and yelling just to feel a sensation.
Learning and play environments can be adapted on a shoestring budget and/or can be combined and designed with the most innovative, high-tech equipment available today. Ideas to improve color and use of space, overall organization, touch, sound, smell, opportunities for movement are suggested to give you a glimpse of the vast scope of ideas and options.
Color and Use of Space:
Color impacts mood and can effect learning. Cool colors such as blues and greens can calm and focus. Bright cheery colors such as yellow and orange can stimulate and increase energy.
A variety of high tech, wireless lighting systems are available to automatically manipulate the color in the room and stimulate the ideal mood. High tech, bubble tubes, some wireless, can also be used to introduce a range of colors into an environment to calm or stimulate the senses.
It is helpful to have a cool down area, painted in muted colors and or enclosed to help children who need a calm quiet space to calm down and focus. The corner might include tools such as fidgets, cushions, weighted objects and chewies to help children relax and focus. Low cost options might include our Self Calming Corner Kit.
-Arrange toys into colorful labeled bins or clear bins that are labled so retrieval and clean up is easy
-Remove unnecessary clutter. Clutter can be very disorganizing for children. Use low cost items such as shoe bags, coffee cans, shoe boxes, and storage containers to arrange the space
-Multi-Purpose furniture such as the educhair and edubench help minimize clutter and clear the space
-Have a special rug for each child to sit on. This allows children to retreat to their own personal space
-Create picture and/or word schedules so the child can anticipate the activities of the day
-Set up student desks or tables in areas away from windows and doors to minimize distractions
-High traffic areas such the teacher’s desk, pencil sharpener and wastebaskets should be as clear as possible
To be continued with suggestions for enriching an environment with touch, sound, aroma and opportunities for movement..