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Tips on how to set up a Sensory Friendly Classroom and calming strategies


When you're working with children in the classroom, and something becomes difficult or they might become anxious in a particular situation. It's good to have a corner of your room or space that can be calming for the children. Things like a weighted blanket or a beanbag chair or a big blanket with foam inside, something where they can go and be quiet and comfortable. Maybe reading a book is good or you can have soft music playing.

It's really great to have the fluorescent lights dimmed, or use a floor lamp with a LED lighting because that a lot of the times gives the kids, a more calming environment, especially if they're sensitive to certain types of lights. Fluorescent lights sometimes bother children.

I know it's difficult to change the lights in the classroom, but you also can cover them with black paper, or you can just turn some of the lights off in your classroom for a specific area.

If you don't have a whole lot of room, you can just use a beanbag chair. And you can kind of get a child in there in a more tighter confined space. It gives them some of that body pressure and that deep calming awareness to where they are. So a lot of the times if they're having trouble with a particular assignment or maybe it's getting too loud in the room they just need to take a step away, you have this area for the kids.

Another thing is a weighted blanket, filled with beans that you can put on the child's lap, you can wrap it around their shoulders whatever is comfortable for them, they like that.

You could also make just a smaller blanket as a lap weight. Then, even if they're sitting in their chair and you see them getting a little anxious, you could just put it in their lap to help calm them. Also a weighted vest with just little weights inside, children can wear those as a coping strategy.  

Other types of calming strategies are deep pressure to their body. A lot of children sensitive to light touch so if you walk past a child and you touch them very lightly on their back, they may startle them.

Always make sure that you know what your child in the classroom likes or enjoys and if they're wanting that deep pressure, make sure you use that when you're touching them.

If they go into the quiet corner and their needing some calming, you can give them that pressure with your hands, giving them some pressure to parts of their body, or even telling them and teaching them how to do it themselves.