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- Multi-Sensory Room Usage in Medium-Sized Elementary Schools in Western PA: A Case Study
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Are multi-sensory rooms the new fad or are they necessary spaces for special education students? This question frequently comes to mind when talking to people outside of the education system. Oftentimes, these rooms receive little consideration when space planning a ...
Show moreAre multi-sensory rooms the new fad or are they necessary spaces for special education students? This question frequently comes to mind when talking to people outside of the education system. Oftentimes, these rooms receive little consideration when space planning a new school. Instead, any extra room or space that has not already been allocated becomes the multi-sensory room. This often does not allow for proper space planning for the needed sensory aids. The multi-sensory room also may be situated in an undesired location within the school that may be distracting. These undesired adjacencies include the lunchroom, auditorium, and gymnasium. Due to this uncertainty of room placement during the design phase of building, a mixed-methods study was conducted to analyze current multi-sensory rooms. This allowed the researcher to examine how well the rooms function for the students and teachers who use them. The mixed-methods study consisted of a Qualtrics survey and in-person interviews with special education teachers. These teachers were from five elementary schools within the same district in Western Pennsylvania. Results of the study indicated that even though multi-sensory rooms were necessary for the special education students’ daily schedule, teachers often supplemented their students’ sensory needs with aids in the classroom. The rooms housing the multi-sensory rooms were generally located in unideal positions within the school; some were adjacent to high activity areas such as the cafeteria and gymnasium, whereas others were out of the way for convenience. These results, as well as their implications for future research and practice, are discussed.
- Belinda Nuth Sloboda