When people hear the word GYM, most will think that it is a place to improve physical fitness and health. This is where people run on treadmills and carry dumbbells and whatnot. Also, in most schools, gym is a place where sports leagues are held. But if you walk into a sensory gym, you’d know that it serves a different purpose.
What exactly is a sensory gym?
A sensory gym is an area for active play which stimulates all the senses of our children. It is a structured environment which includes sensory equipment designed to provide proprioceptive and vestibular sensory input. We have swings, trampolines, therapy balls, ball pit, climbing walls and many more. Our sensory gym is more than just a playroom. This is particularly for children with special needs, which helps child development across all domains (physical, cognitive, sensory, communication, gross and fine motor skills).
It also gives individuals with autism and other sensory needs access to the equipment they need for sensory regulation in a non-threatening environment. This would help them to feel calmer, more focused and can minimize tantrums and meltdowns. In addition to providing health and fitness benefits, sensory gyms also enhance a child’s self-esteem and social skills.
What are the benefits of our Sensory Gym?
- Provides holistic development
- It gives wonderful opportunities for children to enhance their physical (movement and balance sense, body awareness sense, fine motor skills, bilateral coordination) and cognitive (cause and effect reasoning and social development) skills, in a fun and non-threatening way. Usually before the class starts, we would let our children explore and then provide them with structured gym activities to help them regulate themselves before entering the classroom. It helps them to relieve any stress and helps them prepare themselves for their scheduled activities for the day.
- It amplifies and improves therapies
- Most of children with special needs require other services such as occupational therapy or speech therapy. Sensory gym is actually a useful tool to make therapy sessions more effective. Therapies plus sensory gym when combined, can ease stress in social situations, can increase independence and can help to increase tolerance to unfamiliar situations. In Bridging the Gap, we provide our children guided play on our equipment to meet the individual needs of our children. This also help them to communicate better, strengthen self-care habits and increase attention spans.
- It is fun
- Sensory gyms are generally fun. Kids will be kids and they would always want to explore and play. However, not all children can easily process all kinds of play environment. This is why sensory gyms are built for some children who are having trouble processing a normal playground or play center. This is where they can play freely without any stress. They can make use of the equipment in such ways that can help them regulate themselves. All activities are risk-free which foster calmness and thus, learning becomes very enjoyable.