Written by Jenny McAllister
OhioGuidestone operates a special needs cottage on our Residential Treatment campus that exclusively houses boys with developmental disabilities. These children have unique needs and rarely, if ever, experience the world as the majority of us do. The Community Fund Management Foundation in Strongsville, Ohio generously awarded OhioGuidestone a grant to renovate the current recreation room into a multi-sensory environment.
Children with special needs who are experiencing frustration and high stress often need to be quickly separated from their peers so that other children are not triggered. Often times it is difficult for staff to de-escalate a child who has been exposed to trauma in addition to their developmental disability.
The children residing in this cottage experience limitations that create obstacles to their enjoyment of life, such as:
- Cognitive ability
- Constrained space
- Behavioral difficulties
- Perception issues
As a result, children with developmental disabilities may struggle in an over-stimulating environment. The varied stimuli in a multi-sensory environment helps hyperactive individuals concentrate and focus better. Through the awarded funds from Community Fund Management Foundation, we were able to purchase equipment and furniture suited to construct a multi-sensory environment, which provides an opportunity for bridging those barriers and increasing quality of life. The items we were able to purchase included:
- Interactive sound wall: Children develop cause and effect skills and can create music with their hands by touching different panels on the wall.
- Fiber Optic Carpet: The color-changing LED lights produce a calming environment, perfect for de-escalation, and allows caregivers to work on skills like color recognition and motor control.
- Calming Infinity Tunnel: Looking into the tunnel gives the impression of hundreds of spots of light disappearing out of view – great for calming and relaxation.
- LED Projectors: An essential sensory room item! This device casts images on the wall, ceiling or floor making the environment truly unique.
- Bubble Wall: Small and large convex mirror bubbles invite children to explore their curiosity and see their environment in new ways.
- Beanbag chairs: Are known as adaptive furniture because their shape and density can be adjusted for maximum comfort and benefit. The even pressure on the body provides a calming sense of security, and the beanbag will adapt to the child’s body as he or she grows.
The Residential Treatment programming represents the foundation of our agency. OhioGuidestone was founded over 150 years ago as a home for children orphaned during the Civil War. Today, we are still providing a home for children who have struggled to find the support they need to thrive. We are dedicated to continuing in this tradition of offering support and hope to children who require intensive intervention.
OhioGuidestone and the children residing in our special needs cottage are truly grateful for this generous gift of a better quality of life from the Community Fund Management Foundation. For more information about our Residential Treatment Center, please contact, Megan Kilpatrick at Megan.Kilpatrick@OhioGuidestone.org.