A special education tool that has helped students at Mt. Juliet Middle School, will be coming soon to West Wilson Middle School.
Mt. Juliet Middle Special Education Teacher Lisa Haskell had to deal with an overcrowded classroom a few years ago.
“It caused a lot of behavioral problems,” said Haskell.
So Haskell had to look into finding a place where her students could go. She had heard of sensory rooms, and went to Harris Hillmen and Mur Ci Home, which use them. She took a lot of notes and came back to Mt. Juliet Middle to see if she could raise the money to do it.
Her class does a lot of cooking because it is a good tool to teach them how to follow directions, and to help them to go toward the possibility of living independently. Through that, they raised $5,000, which covered nearly everything that was needed for the room. A giant swing for the room was secured in a grant.
The room is a calm place where the kids can go when they get overstimulated. It is filled with colored lights, a light up bubble tower, the swing, and things with different textures on the wall for the kids to feel. There is also light, peaceful music playing in the room.
From start to finish, the project took about six months to complete. In April, the kids got to go in for the first time.
“They enjoy going in there, definitely,” said Haskell.
Haskell said she uses the room in several ways. One is as a reward. If they are good, then they get to spend time in there. Another is if they have to go a different class to be with the other students, they can go in there before, and it helps calm them. Going to other classes can be overstimulating, and the kids can often worry about it all day. Relaxing them in the sensory room beforehand makes it easier for them.
Haskell said she has one student that keeps one hand curled up, and rocks quite often. She doesn’t when she is in the sensory room. Another student has a problem with screaming frequently.
“When she’s in the room, she doesn’t scream at all,” said Haskell.
Haskell quickly saw the benefits of having the room, so she started exploring helping West Wilson Middle have one of their own.
“When I built this one, and saw the positive aspect, I wanted to do more,” said Haskell.
Haskell is about to begin the process of raising money for a sensory room at West Wilson she hopes to complete by October. She will need $6,000 to finish it. She is working along with West Wilson Special Education Teacher Peggy Morris and parent Alecia Talbott to finish it.
If you would like to donate, there is a site set up on DonorsChoose.org. Just search for the project by state or topic.
In August, Haskell and the kids will be selling pizza kits, and there will also be a family night set up once school gets back in session. For more information about donating, contact Haskell at Haskelll@wcschools.com.