My project needs a variety of sensory materials including: HaloWeight - 2 kilo, Abilitations Giant Yuk-E-Balls, Theraputty (blue and green), Stretch 'N Bounce Balls, Weighted Hall Pass, Octositz Sit and Play, ChewEase, Knobby Tube Chew Tool, Grab Aroma, Tuffy Chewy, Vibrating Snake, Safety Toothbrush, Nuk brush, sensory brushes and holder, stretch ease, and weighted ball.
What if the breeze from an open window was painful to you? Or the buzz of the fluorescent lights distracting? Or what if you needed to be moving to stay awake? If a student's body does not correctly interpret incoming sensory information a student cannot learn. Students with special needs such as autism, Down Syndrome, cerebral palsy, mitochondrial disease, chromosomal disorders and other disabilities cannot properly understand sensory input leading to increased learning difficulties. My 7-12 students, ages 14-22, have varying levels of sensory processing disturbances. Those with global sensory issues from autism or Down Syndrome may need hourly sensory integration sessions, those with cerebral palsy or other motor issues may need less frequent intervention or intervention in only one area of sensory development, for example oral motor development.
In a collaborative special needs classroom, such as mine, special needs equipment is expensive. Money is often spent on the "big ticket", essential items such as gait trainers to teach students to walk or FM auditory trainers to aide hearing impaired students in listening. Smaller items, such as sensory brushes or pressure vests, are either bought in quantities too small to benefit the students (i.e. one item to be shared among six classrooms) or are not purchased at all. If students have the sensory interventions they need they will be able to access more of their education, in turn greatly increasing the chance that they become contributing members of society as they grow and develop.
Purchasing a broad variety of sensory intervention equipment, to be used by a small population of 7-12 students in one classroom rather than 40 students in 6 classrooms ensures that students will have access to the items they need. The items chosen for purchase will make up a "sensory intervention kit" for the classroom and are items that the teacher and the TEAM made up of a speech, occupational and physical therapist will determine the best use of for years to come. As they will belong to the classroom and not the educational agency they will stay available rather than moving from room to room.
With autism affecting 1 in 150 children, cerebral palsy 1 in 500, Down Syndrome 1 in 800 and the total number of students with severe or multiple disabilities in the USA is about 145 000, there is an excellent chance that someone you love loves someone with a severe disability. Your help will ensure that some of these students have better access to learning and a higher quality of life.
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