The sensory room, an inclusive room for all children

The small Oliver he still does not know, but thanks to him, the children in the kindergarten “F.lli Canova” in Istituto Comprivo 1 in San Lazzaro di Savena, municipality in the city of Bologna, have a sensory room made of light available, music and games to stimulate relationships and learning through the senses. Thanks to his parents, Daniela and Lorenzo, and to those who believed in their initiative, who started from the couple’s need to understand how they can help their child relate and communicate, even in school, through the body.

Little Oliver

The boy, who is six years old and has two siblings under the age of 4, suffers from a rare alteration of the STXBP1 gene, which does not allow him to communicate his basic needs and creates difficulties in cognitive and motor organization. But it “feels” with the body, through the sensory stimulation that comes to it from the outside. “While social exchanges are not easy for Oliver, he has to tune in to emotions,” says, his mother Daniela, who is also part of the San Lazzaro Municipality’s Disability Overcome Council and founder of STXBP1 Italy Association, in support of the affected and families. “His story changes my life for the better, melancholy has become something vital,” he explains again, “when it’s hard, it takes a lot of imagination to find ways to live better. If you go back to being a child with him, certain things can become beautiful. And the flowers of a major effort, which includes a rehabilitation process with Israeli therapists that began when Oliver was only a year old, are beginning to blossom. “In March 2022, Oliver stood up alone for the first time,” Daniela continues.

The method

It is also essential that a child can fully know and experience outside the home, in environments and situations where it can come into contact with its peers. “In school there was no place dedicated to his needs, where he could perform certain activities and work in a small group of two or three children,” continues the mother, “so we thought of an environment that was not only directed courage to him, but also to other children, even with disabilities. ” In their research, Oliver’s parents met Mondo Snoezelen, an Italian center associated with the global Isna-Mse reality that brings together those involved in the Snoezelen method. This peculiar term, snoelezen, comes from the crash of two Dutch words meaning snooping, activating (sniffing) and relaxing (doezelen) and indicates a pedagogical / playful / re-educating method that involves a relationship between the participant and an operator in a stimulating environment. senses, sight, touch, smell, hearing, self-absorption (the ability to perceive one’s own body in space), to promote well-being, to accompany the sensorimotor and psycho-relational development, to allow people with disabilities. to perform activities or with learning difficulties, facilitate and facilitate inclusion among participants. After this “discovery”, the Oliver family decides to propose to the school to install a room that works on the basis of this method. “After talking to the school principal, I contacted the school councilor Benedetta Simon and in February 2021, the ‘machine’ began to move,” explains Daniela, “I wanted to ensure that the primary school became a carrier of space and methods inclusive.” .

Lights, settings, aromas and games

The wonders of this wunderkammer ludic-pedagogical is both technological and child-friendly, with many stimuli to the acoustic, visual, olfactory, vibrating, tactile, vestibular parts that affect the cognitive, relational and motor spheres. It is a welcoming organism that moves in unison. There is the interactive ball pool that lights up when you make a sound or change color according to the rhythm of speech, which is a turn to work with space perception. There is the oil image projector, which shows scenarios and settings of all kinds, for every need. “Sensory stimulation is a wonderful thing for children and allows those with disabilities to share real experiences, making the relationship stronger for everyone,” Oliver’s mother explains. “This project is everyone’s legacy, it’s important to convey a sense of place.”

The teachers

“You learn with all your senses, kindergarten children have experience with the body to learn even the most didactic concepts,” explains Barbara Russo, Oliver’s support teacher. To create a situation where it is easier to trigger a connection between the little ones, use the space with Oliver and another child. “Thanks to this space, Oliver’s companions can enter his’ world ‘, the body perception'”. The ways to activate the senses and to be able to express oneself are many and all suitable for children. The settings with music and aromas allow a real identification with the place. “Once I made the snow appear,” the teacher continues, “and Oliver was so fascinated by the flakes that he tried to touch them,” as if they were real. Even more important and instructive is the remote control developed by the Regional Aid Center associated with the pool of colored balls. “By using this remote, Oliver can make choices when playing with balls and understand the cause-and-effect relationship,” he explains. “The idea of ​​the classroom is to create a sense of well-being in a facilitating situation in such a way that one can understand oneself, experiment and develop relational and cognitive skills,” explains teacher and plexus coordinator Zelinda Davolio. “I let children play with the elements to help them find a language to express a common feeling” – he continues – “in a space open to many experiences, from scenarios to mini-documentaries, from tactile tiles that light up to projections of images that have a calming effect “. This, Davolio explains, is the purpose of the method gentle teachingaccompanying the child to discovery, in this case achievable thanks to both physical experience and the novelty and diversity of the suggestions that technology offers.

A valuable project

“We believed in this initiative because it pursues a very valuable purpose: to provide opportunities for children with disabilities,” declares, reached by, the first city of San Lazzaro Isabella Conti. “In our municipality, we started investing in solutions to offer child disability in 2014, and today we set aside two million euros to ensure that educators can follow the little ones even in the afternoon when they are home. This sensory space fits into this hierarchy of values, ”the mayor continues. He adds: “It is necessary to pursue expertise in the public sector to guarantee rights, quality of life and prospects for all. I also hope that other sensory spaces can be created in the metropolitan area of ​​Bologna and in our region”.

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