Provide staff training.
It is essential to provide training to all staff members who may support students utilizing the sensory space. Without proper training, some equipment could get broken or lead to increased dysregulation or unsafe behavior.
Identify who should use the room and when.
A sensory room is ideally utilized as a proactive tool to support regulation. It is not a space that is appropriate for a student who is in the height of dysregulation. It is most effective when used proactively throughout the day, when a student is starting to get a little dysregulated, or as a tool to regroup after a meltdown. Additionally, sensory tools should be utilized with the guidance of the student’s occupational therapist, who can make recommendations and adjustments based on the student’s specific sensory profile.
Use sign in/sign out sheets.
This is a great way to keep track of who is using the sensory room, how long they visit, what items are used and if the visit helped. If you start to notice a pattern of visits, maybe the team can brainstorm ways to proactively support regulation in the classroom. You may consider having teams sign students up for time in the sensory room either before challenging activities or right after dysregulating activities as part of a proactive sensory diet.
Provide clear visual expectations.
Use of the sensory room should be supervised and structured. I have found it helpful to post written and picture directions for both staff and students so everyone knows what to expect when entering the space.
Incorporate regulation check-ins.
Using the program that your school uses, be sure to incorporate regulation checkins as part of your routine. Checking in with the student before using the space and then after using the space can be very helpful to understand how the sensory tools affected the student.
Use a visual timer and visual schedule.
Using visual tools such as a schedule and a timer can help students know exactly what to expect during their time in the sensory room. This also supports regulation as having a predictable schedule often supports regulation.