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LHMS opens new sensory room for occupational therapy

Logan-Hocking Middle School recently added a sensory room for students who participate in occupational therapy provided by Hocking Valley Community Hospital.

“The occupational therapists at Logan-Hocking Middle School use a variety of tools and activities to address and foster the sensory needs of our students,” Missy McCrady, HVCH Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant, said.

LHSD teachers help identify students who may benefit from occupational therapy and they are referred to HVCH staff, who complete testing to identify if there is a need. An individual education plan is created and goals are set for each student that is reviewed with the student, physician, therapist and teachers. Students meet with their therapist at least once a week for half an hour. Two occupational therapists and four Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants currently serve the district.

“The role of our occupational therapists in the school is to help increase the students’ ability to learn by improving their physical abilities and cognitive functions,” McCrady said.

Some tools in the new sensory room include: a swing and squeeze canoe that applies proprioception for deep pressure and can be safely rocked side to side; scooter boards, trampolines and crash pads to increase vestibular input, which all act as alerting and calming tools while providing strength and endurance; and weighted lap buddy animals to produce a calming effect to increase focus and attention to classroom tasks/activities.

Therapists also have provided sensory break boxes for each classroom to allow the students a 3-5 minute break to regain focus when easily distracted.  Items in the box include a variety of fidgets, calming liquid timers, stress balls, child safe bead threading, chewing objects, and other objects.

“If a child is experiencing difficulty with sensory regulation and requires a quiet and calming environment, they are given the option to come to the OT resource sensory area and utilize OT tools to assist in promoting self-regulation,” McCrady said. “We offer alternative seating ideas for students to promote an optimal learning environment for our ‘little wigglers’ to increase attention in the classroom.”

The theme for this year’s OT sensory resource room is “outdoor nature based” with a teepee available to students as a retreat to produce a comfortable, safe and relaxing area to reduce anxiety when experiencing sensory overload. Next year’s theme will be “Give Me Space” with an outer-space theme.

Therapists also have launched two new incentive programs to assist in motivating students in the areas of handwriting and keyboarding.

For more information, contact the Hocking Valley Community Hospital Outpatient Therapy Clinic at (740) 380-8284

Hocking Valley is a community non-profit hospital with an emergency department, urgent care and a wide variety of clinical, specialty and outpatient services. For more information, contact the Community Relations office at (740) 380-8336.