Diverse Abilities, Dorset’s disability charity, is delighted to have received a grant of £6,400 from John Lewis towards its Lilypad Appeal, which will transform its respite home for children with complex disabilities, and their families.

The donation will help fund a new sensory room for the respite home. The sensory room will help meet children’s sensory needs and will provide multiple benefits to their health. There will be an interactive projector where children can play games and interact with their surroundings, giving the children hours of fun, bubble tubes, bright lights and a fan that circulates different scents so that they can become immersed in their own world.

16 year old Grace is just one of the children who will benefit from the sensory room, as her mother Zoe explains:

“Grace has been going to the respite home for 10 years now and currently has two overnight stays each month.  She has severe learning disabilities and “Ataxia” – which makes her very shaky and unstable.  She also has complex communication needs and Sensory Processing Disorder.

Grace finds it difficult to entertain herself and needs constant one-to-one supervision, which can be exhausting for us as a family. She has Sensory Processing Disorder which means she can be over and under sensitive to noise, light, sound touch and smell. When she is over sensitive she can find loud noises unbearable and can be overwhelmed by the world around her. When she is under sensitive she can show little or no reaction to stimulation or pain.

Sensory Room - thanks to John Lewis - Will Make Children Happier

Not managing her sensory needs can make her really anxious and can lead to challenging behaviour. She has a sensory diet which involves activities like swinging, chewing and jumping to help balance out her senses. 

A sensory room would be wonderful for Grace.  It would entertain her and provide a calm or stimulating exploratory space.  She would have the elements at her finger tips to take responsibility for her own sensory needs, helping build her independence, self awareness and self empowerment. 

When she is feeling anxious or overwhelmed features like soft calming music, bubble tubes and a wall wash could help calm her down and reduce her shakiness and tremors dramatically. Conversely when she is feeling under stimulated or bored she could hone in on activities that stimulate her senses, such as the projector screen where she can move objects, play the drums and splat objects!  She will be able to control the colour of bubble tubes and walls and make the room smell lovely. The interactive activities will give her a sense of control, cause and effect, and develop her motor skills.  

Taking care of her sensory needs will make her so much happier and she will be able to enjoy her time at the respite home so much more.”

Find out more about Diverse Abilities by visiting their website.

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Nisha Kotecha is the Founder of Good News Shared. Having worked and volunteered for charities in the UK for over 10 years, Nisha is on a mission to highlight how amazing charities are.

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