Fidget spinners are one of the most well-known sensory tools on the market today, even though most people don’t know their purpose. The spinner is seen as a nuisance in the classroom and a way for children to not pay attention, when it was designed to do the exact opposite.
The fidget spinner is an example of a sensory tool that can help youth calm their minds and focus on the task at hand, as it is splitting their focus enough that they can then concentrate. Think of someone that is bouncing their leg up and down during a meeting, when you ask them about it, they rarely know they are doing it, but the continuous motion is helping them concentrate. The same can be said for a fidget spinner, fidget cube, or various other sensory tools.
Three Nexus sites (Mille Lacs Academy, Onarga Academy, Indian Oaks Academy), have taken this one step further. They now have active sensory rooms for the children in their care. A sensory room is a “therapeutic space with a variety of equipment that provides students with special needs with personalized sensory input, this helps these children calm and focus themselves so they can be better prepared for learning and interacting with others.”1 Sensory rooms can hold a variety of types of equipment and work with all sensations, such as “hearing, pressure, seeing, and touch.”1
To say the least, these rooms are important to the children that need them. The sensory rooms allow them to relax and calm themselves to help with better focus. In regard to the therapy taking place at our Nexus sites, “sensory rooms are important because of the endless opportunities for sensory-based input, changes to alertness, and social interactions they can offer to a vast majority of patients, regardless of the different needs of each person.”1
According to Experia Innovations, the benefits of a sensory room are broad, some of these benefits include:
The Hidden Angel Foundation found that time spent in a multi-sensory environment has been shown to “increase concentration, focus attention, improve alertness, awaken memories, and to improve mobilization, creativity, social relations and communications, and general awareness of the surrounding world.”3
When thinking of a sensory room and how you can create this interaction for your child, consider speaking to a therapist about your local options/treatment centers. If you are interested in building a sensory space for your child within your own home, take a look at resources like http://advocacyinaction.net/creating-sensory-room-or-area-at-home/ and https://www.especialneeds.com/blog/budget-sensory-room-building/.