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Natural Awakenings Westchester / Putnam / Dutchess New York

Sensory Support Calms Students with Special Needs: The converted classroom, outfitted with furniture, activities and personal items, allows students to practice calming strategies in a safe and isolated place.

Aug 01, 2018 01:29AM

Student in Sensory Space

The children who come to Green Chimneys School struggle with social-emotional issues that can challenge their ability to cope in certain situations. The Sensory Space at the school’s Brewster campus is one of the most popular locations for students in need of a break, says Jennifer Milillo, director of marketing and communications. The converted classroom, outfitted with furniture, activities and personal items, allows students to practice calming strategies in a safe and isolated place.

“Many students utilize the space to calm down in moments of stress, often by turning on the essential oil diffuser and listening to music or a podcast on Bluetooth headphones,” Milillo says. “Others blow off steam by jumping into the beanbag crash area or setting up an obstacle course of cushions and gym mats. Students returning from a home visit or arriving after a long bus ride often like to jump on the bounce disc or do a puzzle with staff, to ease their transition back into the program.”

The Sensory Space’s popularity is spurring the addition of sensory tools in Green Chimneys’ classrooms, dorms and recreation activities, and the integration of sensory activities into its daily recreation programming. The school is also incorporating similar tools and activities into its programs for Putnam County youth. The Community Outreach Center in the Village of Brewster is planning its own sensory space to provide the youth it serves with access to calming and soothing environments.

To learn more about Green Chimneys and its therapeutic approach, visit GreenChimneys.org.