For neurodiverse kids, Sensory Spot offers a new way to play

By Haley Lena, Colorado Community Media

Parker play space offers neurodiverse children a fun, safe space to explore comfortably

Amid the bustle of Parker’s Dransfeldt Road sits The Sensory Spot, a place where parents can relax as their children develop cognitive skills and explore creativity through play. There are textured walls to feel and rotating sensory bins, objects to be stacked and sorted as well as various art stations, including chalk and white board walls for freedom of expression. Mindfulness activities promote different ways of problem-solving. 

“It really allows them to explore without any sort of guideline,” said Kayla Pallace, who opened The Sensory Spot. “It provides them a way to explore their feelings, explore what speaks to them, what feels good to them in a super low pressure way.” 

Although her son is neurotypical as far as she knows, Pallace and her husband took him out to play and felt overwhelmed. They also noticed many museums and venues would hold low sensory hours, but struggled to find additional options for sensory-based play. 

“That was just so sad to me because there’s just so many kids who need it,” said Pallace. 

She doesn’t have a child development background, but does hold a master’s degree in psychology. Pallace researched children who experience the world differently, including those on the autism spectrum and those with sensory processing, intellectual and developmental differences. She decided that The Sensory Spot would be a place where both neurodivergent and neurotypical kids could play in a supportive and creative environment. 

Photo of a 7 ft-by-10 ft chalk wall and a smaller size white board wall
There are textured walls to feel and a white board and chalk wall for kids to express themselves. Photo by Haley Lena, Colorado Community Media

“I want my son to know how many kids come from different backgrounds,” said Pallace. “I wanted somewhere where he could feel safe and comfortably interact with kids that were different from him.” 

Dr. Nicole Baumer of Harvard Medical School stated that neurodiversity “describes the idea that people experience and interact with the world around them in different ways,” and there is no correct way of learning, thinking or behaving.

Additionally, an article from the Child Mind Institute indicated that some behaviors identified as impairment are caused by problems in neurodiverse people’s environments — from kids’ birthday parties to school classrooms to adult workplaces – which can be made more comfortable for them.

While only 25 people are allowed in the building once, tracked on their website, many comfort items are available, such as weighted lap pads and blankets, blackout tents, noise-canceling headphones, fidget toys and a small library. The Sensory Spot also holds events, like movement classes, sensory-friendly movie nights, concerts and therapy dog visits.

Pallace also wanted to create a space where parents feel comfortable watching their kids, playing with them or working remotely. Staffers reset the stations and clean them to ensure everything is sanitized. 

With the goal of promoting understanding and raising awareness of neurodiversity, The Sensory Spot partners with schools, healthcare providers and other community organizations to provide resources.

Read the original article here.

Reproduced with permission. Originally published in the Parker Chronicle. Copyright 2024 Colorado Community Media.

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Supporting people in recovery from trauma and suicidal intensity is my Why. I live differently abled & am proudly part-Indigenous (Mvskoke).
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