A MAGICAL place has given children with autism a safe sanctuary.

A new sensory room, nicknamed the Rainbow Room, was created a year ago to help children’s wellbeing at Hermitage Primary School in Holmes Chapel.

Equipped with calming lights, music, and tactile pieces, it has been hailed a huge success.

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Children can now manage their own behaviour and strong emotions.

A colourful birthday cake was made to celebrate the first anniversary of the 

Headteacher Helen Ross said: “It’s really helping children.

“We see them more quickly identifying when they need to calm down.

“Children are not getting as distressed.

“They recognise dysregulation in themselves and say ‘I need to go to the Rainbow Room’.”

So-called self-regulation is challenging for all children, but can be particularly difficult for pupils with autism and other special needs.

The space inside the sensory room has an otherworldly, magical feel.

The back wall is painted black and covered in gentle twinkling lights, much like the night sky.

A projection of a soothing underwater scene flows on another wall.

On a waist-high padded surface, students can lie down, turning on vibration plates beneath the surface if they wish.

Tactile, long plastic ropes lit with interior lights, each a different colour, seem to grow out of the floor.

Mrs Ross said: “You wouldn’t use everything at once. Usually only one at a time or a student might choose not to have anything on.”

Pupils come for sensory input, to either calm down or for stimulation.

Children who access emotional support can have time in the room with support staff.

Teleri Pitts, the school’s special educational needs co-ordinator, said: “All behaviours are communication, and not everyone can verbally tell you how they are feeling.

“A child may be dysregulated because of many reasons.

“What is important is that you support the child to regulate and then try and unpick this with the child and support them to communicate their needs.

“Time within the sensory room allows the child the space to regulate.”

The idea for the room came after a member of staff saw a sensory room at Space for Autism in Macclesfield.

Mrs Ross said: “We first tried to do it more cheaply by buying some sensory toys, but it’s not the same.”

Donations from the local Co-op enabled Hermitage to purchase additional resources, which led to the creation of a fully-functioning sensory room.

Students can also sit in front of three-dimensional sensory panels and use knobs and buttons to control what they see behind a clear covering.

This includes columns of squares growing and shrinking under the child’s direction.

Alternatively, they can press a button that sends a cloud of glitter sprinkling down, or dozens of small, choreographed lights that follow patterns, with or without synchronised music.

Mrs Pitts said: “As we have a resource provision for children with autism spectrum condition, it was important that we were able to help them to regulate emotions and behaviours with another person and to self-regulate.

“Children need breaks in their learning.

“Some children can get very overwhelmed with the school day and need a safe, quiet and calm space that they can access to support their regulation.”