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Finding Calm On Their Own Time – In Their Own Space

Alexander Youth Network implements calming rooms to give children the opportunity to identify how they can best self-regulate under stress.

Many of the children that are seeking treatment at Alexander Youth Network struggle to manage their mental and behavioral health challenges in social settings. They may act out, show signs of aggression, and find it hard to process their emotions under stress.

Alexander is solving that problem with new calming rooms for our Psychiatric Residential Program (PRTF).

The new calming rooms, adjacent to each PRTF classroom, offer children a safe place, without leaving the comforts of their classroom. Children can access each calming room from the classroom and to access calming and tactile activities like swing chairs, bean bags, Legos, and books. The proximity of the rooms allows children to choose to go to the rooms prior to crisis and select which activities help them self-regulate.

Our calming rooms are unique in that they offer additional coping tools along with what we offer in the classroom and in their coping bag, including:

· Aromatherapy

· Sound Machines

· Beanbags Chairs

· Books

· Coloring Activities

· Swing Chairs

· Sensory Items

· Tactile Games

· MP3 Players

· Noise Cancelling Headphones

This gives children the opportunity within the classroom to self-regulate, this helps children to recognize emotional stress prior to crisis without hesitating to leave the classroom or peers. Children are able to identify their needs and choose tools that will help them calm in their own time. Most importantly they are able to utilize their coping skills in a public space.

“Keeping kids in the classroom and preventing crisis are our top priorities. We want to help kids recognize their emotions and stress to initiate the skills that work best for them. The calming rooms give them that option.” Nikki Cannon, PRTF Program Manager

In the past 6 weeks since the calming rooms have opening kids have proactively asked to visit a calming room prior to crisis. Since opening the calming rooms to each classroom we have been able to reduce crisis for our kids.

The adjacent rooms and in-class coping skills have helped prevent a crisis for 100% of the children who have asked to go to each room. As children are more comfortable with the rooms and learn which skills work best for them we expect utilization to increase.

The calming rooms were a personal project for PRTF Program Manager, Nikki Cannon. The idea and design came from Gabrielle Rhodes, former Recreation Therapist Intern from Winston-Salem State University.

Written by Emily Gordon.

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