Douglas Center offers sensory therapy room for those with special needs

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People living with special needs sometimes have a difficult time expressing their emotions. (WLS)

People living with special needs sometimes have a difficult time expressing their emotions. So specialists are constantly searching for new ways to improve their quality of life.

It's actually been around for a few decades now, but lately it's being utilized by an entirely different group of individuals - it's called sensory therapy. A new space was just opened in Skokie and, so far, it's a hit with everyone involved.

It may look like something from the psychedelic '70s, but this room is a part of a cutting edge therapy for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It's the brand new sensory therapy room at the Douglas Center in Skokie.

"It's for people who just need some time away from overstimulation. Sometimes you are in an environment that is overstimulating. Too much noise. Too many people. Too much going on around you," said Rifath Khan, CEO, Douglas Center.

All these bubbles, lights and fiber optics help give the clients some control over their emotions.

"So when you take them in that sensory therapy room, it gives them that effect of being by themselves, calming themselves down, listening to nature sounds, feeling the equipment that's in there," Khan said.

And the Douglas Center clients themselves tell their therapists when they need that timeout. Or as they say here, "the time to regulate their emotions."

"Someone who has sensory issues might be irritated by the smallest thing like a tag on their shirt of someone dragging their nails across the table. So the idea of this room is to give them a space when they are starting to feel that agitation to bring it down," said Amanda Bulgrin, case manager.

The facility can accommodate up to three clients at a time. Ken Carr says it's a highlight of his day.

"It's good to get relaxed when you get nervous and stuff and you relax and free stuff off your mind and just relax," Carr said.

And it is relaxing. I tried some of the equipment myself and almost fell asleep. The Douglas Center was able to construct the "sensory room" with funding from the Coleman Foundation.

They hope to be able to expand it one day in order to help even more people. For more information, visit

Related Topics:
societydisabilitydisability issuestherapySkokie
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