For adults with autism, having a safe place to work out stress, engage the senses and regain focus on goals, makes a meaningful day possible. You can make a difference in the life of people served by ADEC by choosing to give to the pilot Day Services Sensory Room project at Middlebury Day.

This pilot project, initiated by Middlebury Day managers Margaret Cook and Kayla Simmons, will serve as a way for ADEC to try something new and observe how it better serves our consumers. Many of the clients at Middlebury Day fall on the autism spectrum and have sensory needs.

In order to make the Sensory Room come to fruition, ADEC has launched a #GivingTuesday fundraiser with the goal of raising $3,000 on or by Tuesday, Dec. 1. #GivingTuesday was launched in 2012 as a way to encourage giving and spread nonprofit awareness during the busy holiday season. The thought was we have Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, why not have a day dedicated to giving back to the nonprofits who make a difference in our community?

You can help ADEC make a difference this #GivingTuesday by giving yourself or encouraging your friends to give via social media. We decided to use a new charity platform from the established crowdfunding site Indiegogo since they do not require any fees. All gifts go 100% to helping ADEC clients live a life of choice and possibility. Be sure to check back to the fundraising page on frequently to check our progress! Share our #GivingTuesday appeals on your own social media sites to increase exposure.

In the meantime, meet three of the people who will benefit from having a Sensory Room at Middlebury Day.

Meet Greg

Greg (pictured above) enjoys his time at Middlebury Day. He comes ready to participate with a good attitude. However, the feeling of being in a crowd can become overwhelming. When he needs to get away, he heads out the door to stand on the porch and breathe in some fresh air.

Sometimes, it’s rainy and windy. Other times, the temperature is low and snow lines the porch. Regardless of the weather, Greg throws on a coat and runs out to have a personal time-out.]

Introducing a Sensory Room will give Greg a safe place to go when the room starts to feel too full. He’ll be able to listen to calming music, trace his fingers on the light table and engage with the various textures on the wall. He will breathe out frustration and breathe in a sense of security, a sense of belonging.

 Meet Stephen

Stephen looks forward to spending time at ADEC’s day services. He arrives with a smile and plans to complete the day’s activities.

However, as he tries to participate, distraction takes over. The loud conversation nearby, the girl playing a game on a computer and the news report booming through the TV all happening at once make Stephen feel overwhelmed. He begins to poke at his staff members and rock himself, unable to process all of the activity occurring around him.

He looks for a safe spot to take a moment and work out his anxiety before returning to his task. There’s no place to go.

Meet Zach

When Zach is at home with his mom, he can’t stop talking. He tells her about his day and his interests, going with whatever enters his mind. However, when Zach comes to Middlebury Day, he gets quiet.

The feeling of being in a room with several other people talking and moving about overwhelms him. He is eager to work on vocational projects and has the skills to work independently if he focuses, but more often than not, he shuts down. Since he does not talk much, staff members can’t be sure what he enjoys. They have noticed he paints some and likes to be on the computer, but they haven’t been able to gauge his interests otherwise.

Having a Sensory Room will give Zach a place where he can self-soothe, enjoy the calm and immerse himself in sensory activities to regain focus. In turn, staff members feel he will open up and begin talking more, giving them a chance to learn what he enjoys so they can plan a more meaningful day for him.

 What will be included in the Sensory Room?

  1. Touch responsive light table: Accessories will include colored sand, water beads, and easily manipulable plastic shapes
  2. Adjustable weighted blanket
  3. Music player with headphones: A variety of music will be available, from calm tones to heavy metal, to meet each consumer’s needs for rest, relaxation, adrenaline and other desired feelings.
  4. Textured wall hangings
  5. iPad loaded with sensory games and activities
  6. Bean bags
  7. Exercise ball
  8. Hand and feet vibrators
  9. Sound diffusing walls


Fast Facts about Autism

More than 3.5 million Americans live with an autism spectrum disorder. (Autism Society)

Prevalence of autism in U.S. children increased by 119.4 percent from 2000. (Autism Society)

The point of a sensory room is to calm or stimulate an individual through each of the senses.

Many people with autism have sensory sensitivity. This can affect one or more of the five senses sight, sound, smell, touch and taste. A person’s senses can be over-developed (hypersensitive) or under-developed (hyposensitive). Both can have an impact on how people experience, and cope with, different environments. (National Autistic Society)


Article by Whitney Craig / Communications Specialist

Photo and Graphic by Rod Tackett / Communications Specialist