The Athens Herald-Banner reports:
On days when kindergartner Wesley Childers gets too antsy, his teachers at Rutland Academy in Athens usher him into a special calming room and let him crawl through a canvas tube, swing in a hammock or sit on a bean-bag chair that vibrates and makes ocean-like sounds.
Sometimes, the 6-year-old and his teacher read together in the room, often called a "sensory room" or "calming room," used by some Georgia schools to head off fits or tantrums so students can return to class and focus on their work.
As more schools face the challenge of teaching a rising population of students with autism spectrum disorders, administrators are considering the use of sensory rooms as a tool to better manage students' behavior.
"There really isn't research to support these as things to help kids," said Kevin Ayres, an assistant professor of special education in the University of Georgia's College of Education. "They look like fun - kids have fun in them - but there's no research to say they improve educational outcomes."