When Esperanza occupational therapists James and Holly set out to create a dedicated sensory space, they did not envision the immediate impact they would see. 

“David*, who I’ve never seen relaxed, went into the sensory room and zened out immediately,” said James. “He laid down and looked up at the projectors on the ceiling. He was more calm than I’ve ever seen him. And now he is more calm in the classroom.” 

The space, which opened in July on a trial basis, is the first dedicated sensory room for Esperanza, opening many doors for our students who struggle with sensory dysfunction. 

“Regulation ties a lot into behavior,” said Holly. “The more you participate in sensory spaces, the less behavior we see, which is our primary goal.”

James and Holly wanted to make the room adaptable to every student, from a swing to a trampoline to projectors.

Before the room opened, recess was the only place students had to release their energy. Holly and James mainly worked on fine motor skills in the classroom or in an empty side room. Now, they have a space to regulate their energy and work on all their skills. 

“The results we’ve seen so far have been really good,” said Holly. “Now, we can focus on prevention to decrease behaviors and gives students better focus in the classroom.”

Beyond helping students regulate, the space has already helped Holly and James learn more about Esperanza’s students. 

“We have seen students trying things we never thought they would, which has really opened us up to learn new things about these students,” said Holly. “We thought some students would never use the trampoline, and they immediately ran right to the trampoline.”

The space will open fully in the fall when school is back in session.  

Thank you to the Special Kids Foundation for helping fund the space and Compass Cares for painting the room.

* Name has been changed for privacy reasons.