PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. - Trampolines, swings and obstacle courses in school are helping some students advance in the classroom, according to teachers.
Charlotte County teachers want more students to have those learning opportunities. The school system is asking for donations to design specialized sensory rooms for children with communication disorders, like Autism.
Jack Porter, a first-grader at Kingsway Elementary in Port Charlotte, has an autism spectrum disorder.
"Jack has a whole lot of energy," said Julaine Tollison, an occupational therapist at Kingsway. "That interferes a lot of times with the inability to sit still, to focus, to process external sensory information."
Kingsview built its sensory room in January. Since then, Jack's teacher has found that a brief, daily, private playtime in the room has helped Jack in the classroom.
"This room has immensely helped our children with autism here. It's been a game changer," said Emilie Webb, Jack's teacher.
Everything in the room plays off the senses. The room is equipped with calming lights, soothing music, arts and crafts and plenty of physical activities for excess energy.
"(The room) is an outlet for the excess energy that (Jack) has," Tollison said. "Once we have those basic foundational sensory needs met, it makes it easier for him to focus, and then higher level learning can take place."
A sensory room can cost about $3,000. Kingsway is the only mainstream school in Charlotte County that has one. The district is currently working on adding sensory rooms to more schools, paid for entirely by donations.
To donate, contact Charlotte County Schools at (941) 255-7430.