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Helping to stimulate the senses

New room at the School of Bright Promise aimed at those with autism, other disorders

December 15, 2013
By MARK LAW - Staff writer ( , The Herald-Star

STEUBENVILLE -The new sensory room at the School of Bright Promise helps calm and stimulate the senses of children with autism or developmental disorders.

Rachel Bodo, School of Bright Promise, said the Fraternal Order of Eagles in Ohio provided the school with a $10,000 grant to equip the room.

The school had a small sensory room but it wasn't large enough to accommodate all the pupils who needed it, she said.

Article Photos

SENSORY ROOM — Rachel Bodo, School of Bright Promise principal, sits in a cocoon chair in the new sensory room at the school. The Fraternal Order of Eagles in Ohio gave the school a $10,000 grant for the room. The sensory room is used to stimulate the senses and calm children with autism or developmental disorders. — Mark Law

The room has a bubble machine, projector with colored images, cocoon chair, soft music, aroma therapy, vibrating chair and a work area that kids can use to complete school work.

"The sensory room is a space where kids can go to calm down when they are hypersensitive. It can also do the opposite and make them more alert," Bodo said. "Their whole attitude changes. They get giddy and excited."

Bodo said there is a schedule set for the kids to use the room. Some pupils need to use the room two to three times a day for 15 to 30 minutes at a time, she said.

She noted the majority of pupils show an improvement after using the room, but there are some pupils who don't like it at all.

Bodo said the equipment in the room is expensive, as the bubble machine alone cost $3,000. The staff at the school has built some of items in the room using Christmas lights.

"If it wasn't for the Eagles, we would still be in a tiny room," Bodo said.

The new room can accommodate up to three pupils at a time. The old sensory room only could handle one pupil.

Bodo said she went to Columbus to accept the check from the Eagles, and she credited Brenda Nobile of the Ohio Fraternal Order of Eagles for letting the school know about the grant opportunity. Bodo said the Eagles have donated more than $40,000 to the Jefferson County Developmental Disabilities over the years.

Children with autism have sensory needs, and the room stimulates all five senses, she said.

Wendy Tucker, a school staff member, said the room is essential to kids with autism.

"They need it. We all need that calming moment in the day," she said.

Tammy Cain, school behavior support coordinator, said there are less incidents of behavioral outbursts with the sensory room.

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