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SIGN Kamsack FRC adds Sensory Time to its program

Program supports children with a diagnosis of autism.
As the result of consultation with, and support from professionals in the field of autism, KFRC will start a half‐hour a week Sensory Time in August.

KAMSACK - Earlier this summer, the SIGN Kamsack Family Resource Centre (KFRC) saw a need in the community to support families with children who have sensory needs, primarily children on the autism spectrum.

As the result of consultation with, and support from professionals in that field, KFRC will start a half‐hour a week Sensory Time in August.

Andrea Verigin and Megan Holodniuk of the KFRC invited Kelley Wog, Early Childhood Interventionist with the Parkland Early Childhood Intervention Program and Tasha Sudsbear, the Autism Spectrum Disorder Consultant with SHA's Children’s Therapy Program in Yorkton, to meet with them to learn more about how they can provide suitable programming. Also attending the session were Anne Schilvert, Director at Canora Children’s KidsSpace and Daycare, and Tiffany Stone, Kamkids Daycare Inc. Director.

Sudsbear explains that she and her program support children with a diagnosis of autism, or who are waiting for assessment, and their families.  "Many children with autism are more sensitive to the environment around them and can be more bothered by lights and sounds. They may have more trouble calming after becoming dysregulated. This is not unique to autism however – children can also have sensory processing difficulties without having a diagnosis of autism. They may have a different diagnosis or no diagnosis at all."

Sudsbear points out that creating sensory friendly time at the Kamsack FRC will help the program to be inclusive of all children and families.  "Parents of children with autism often report feeling isolated, and that they are anxious about going into the community with their child. We can support these parents to feel more comfortable in the community by assuring them that their child is welcome, and that staff are understanding of challenges that they may have," she adds.  She lists the potential challenges may be averted by implementing the following strategies:

  • Dimming lights;
  • Removing extra brochures, posters, and decorations from the room;
  • Turning off background music;
  • Limiting the number of people attending;
  • Providing a variety of calming sensory experiences such as tactile sensory tables and light tables;
  • Providing quiet spaces for children to retreat if they need a break.

Sensory friendly times tell parents that their children are welcome" she says, "and that the Kamsack FRC is a safe space for them. My hope is that this will alleviate parents’ anxiety and isolation, provide fun learning and social opportunities for children, and create connections that help families to access other
community supports."

After the learning session with Sudsbear, Verigin and Holodniuk decided to add a Sensory Time to their FRC schedule for families needing this. The sessions will be 30 minutes in length and held once a week at first, with more sessions added into fall if there is a need. Parents with children from newborn to age 5 will be able to attend, but attendance will be limited.

The playrooms will be set up at the direction of Sudsbear, and Kamsack FRC will add toys or books that the child is interested in. Families are encouraged to bring items which will make the child feel comfortable such as fidgets or squishies.

"We understand the parents maybe new to our Centre but want them to know we understand and are okay with children displaying a variety of behaviours," Verigin. "We want to help families build connections and to support the child as best we can."