WINTER HAVEN, Fla. -- Outbursts, fits and focusing issues are all a part of being a parent of a child with autism.
But with a brand new sensory room, the Winter Haven Public Library may be able to help.
It’s no bigger than a small office but the room has been renovated to stimulate the minds of children who are on the spectrum or kids who have focusing issues like ADHD. An anonymous donor enabled the library to make the changes which include a high and low tech room, customizable for each child’s need.
“We wanted to have something that was for children on the spectrum,” Jane Martin, the Winter Haven Public Library director.
Martin tells ABC Action News the sensory room, equipment, the renovation and the take home toys cost about $42,000.
“My oldest grandson is on the spectrum and so I do have an interest in it. And then just being a librarian, I mean we see children and we know there is a need,” Martin said.
Interactive toys in the room include a bubble tube, infinity tube, fiber optic lights, a tactile toy wall and a screen which plays calming scenes. All the toys or equipment are customizable, can change colors or play sounds.
Also in the room is a bench which children can use to listen or feel relaxing vibrations.
“Depending on if they need less sensory input or more sensory input they can customize which equipment they turn on and off,” Martin said.
As we were experiencing the room for ourselves, children and their parents kept checking in to see what was going on. We ran into one mother who was completely amazed by the idea and thankful to the library as a mother to a son who has ADHD.
“Sometimes, if you give them a chance to redirect their attention to something else they’ll come back to what they are supposed to be focused on,” Milna Morancy said as her daughter played in the sensory room.
Sensory bags filled with fidget toys, aroma therapy as well as tactile toys are also available to parents to check out.
The sensory room is free to the public but by appointment only.
For more information on how to set up an appointment contact the library here.
You may also contact the Winter Haven Public Library at (863) 291-5880.