CROMWELL, CT (July 31, 2017) – New outdoor classrooms and a “sensory playground” designed to meet the unique needs of children with autism spectrum disorder were dedicated recently by the Ädelbrook Behavioral & Developmental Services’ The Learning Center.
Ädelbrook (formerly Children’s Home of Cromwell) is a Covenant-affiliated ministry that serves children with learning disabilities, primarily autism. Seventy students between the ages of 9 and 18 attend The Learning Center in Cromwell.
Studies have shown that increased outdoor experience can increase children’s happiness and improve focus for those with ADHD, says Michelle Andrews, director of education at the Learning Center. The playground and classrooms offer opportunities for movement, interaction, and self-discovery for all learners with differing motor skill capabilities.
Like a typical playground, the Learning Center includes high and low bars, a slide, swings, cargo nets, balance beam, and a tunnel. But this playground is uniquely designed to prevent overstimulation. More space is provided between various equipment to prevent collisions and give children room to play. As well, designated quiet areas provide options for students who may need a moment of respite in the midst of play.
A sensory playground and classroom area also expands the therapeutic observation areas, allowing staff to observe children away from humming lights, echoing hallways, and dozens of voices that can lead to overstimulation and hypersensitive responses. Seeing the children interact in this open context helps workers to better interpret the progress and specific needs of a child.
Since 2013, Ädelbrook has worked with Kidspace, Inc., a company based in Canton, Connecticut, which specializes in developing playgrounds for children with disabilities.
The Learning Center in Manchester, Connecticut, dedicated a playground designed for children ages three to 11. They work with 27 students. Both playgrounds were funded by donations and Ädelbrook’s Golf for Kids event.