Education Minister Hanley opens sensory rooms at local preschools to help autistic children 

The Ministry of Education’s Early Childhood Development Unit (ECDU) has equipped four preschools with multi-sensory rooms designed to help children affected with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). 

The recipient schools are St. Paul’s Daycare Center, Tabernacle Daycare Center, Victoria Road Preschool, and St. Peter’s Daycare Centre.

A sensory room, or sensory integration room, is designed to provide calm, focus, and comfort to people with sensory processing problems, which often includes people with ASD. Children on the spectrum may be hyper-sensitive to harsh lighting, strong odours, and loud music.

In the ribbon cutting ceremonies held on 10th June, 2024, Minister of Education, Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Geoffrey Hanley explained the importance of installing these safe spaces to meet the needs of children affected by ASD. 

“For children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other developmental delays, the world can be a very over-stimulating, intimidating and overwhelming place. Therefore, sensory rooms will be used to help them self-regulate and develop by exploring a variety of sights, sounds, textures, and movement experiences. 

“Sensory rooms provide a safe and controlled environment where children with ASD can manage their sensory needs, regulate their emotions, and focus on learning, all with the support of their teachers. 

“Our sensory rooms will benefit both the children who utilise them and also become a learning experience for their peers. Over time our society will become more accepting and understanding of persons with special needs,” said the deputy prime minister.

This position was reinforced by head of the ECDU, Director Kimona Browne.

“Sensory rooms are more than just spaces filled with equipment; they are environments designed to enhance learning, provide support and promote inclusivity. These rooms will offer our children interactive and multisensory experiences that cater to their diverse needs, helping them develop essential skills in a fun and engaging way. Today as we open these sensory rooms, we are not just cutting ribbons: we are opening doors to new opportunities, experiences, and growth for our children. We are reaffirming our commitment to creating an inclusive and supportive environment where every child can thrive,” Browne said.

According to the Ministry of Education and ECDU, the sensory rooms are “visual representations of the June 2024 Child Month theme, Embrace Inclusion: Every Child Counts and the Ministry of Education’s guiding theme, Transforming Education Through Self-Renewal, Holistic Partnerships and Digital Solutions”.

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