While autism rates continue to rise, more and more services are becoming available for our kids. But for those in the trenches, it never seems to be where we need it. It becomes increasingly more difficult to find services the further you get from the city. This was true for Holly Forville, who realized quickly that there wasn’t much available in her hometown of Shelbyville for her autistic grandson Miller… not even a Gymboree or Kindermusik. With a population of around 20,000 people, she knew the need was there. So she embarked on a partnership with the Arc of Shelby County and the Shelbyville VC Aktion Club to build a facility that kids like Miller could enjoy.
Through grants and community fundraising, the SENSES Playroom Gym began to take shape. Located at 1110 Amos Road, Suite A, it contains everything you’d want for a positive sensory experience. Included in the main room is a 24-ft custom-made tactile wall, monkey bars, a sensory bin, playhouse, crawling tunnel and more. Two additional rooms offer more quiet actives. In the first room, you’ll find snuggle swings and a crash pad, while the second serves as a light room where bubble lamps and lava lights set the mood for a more serene atmosphere. The light room is where kids can immerse themselves in strings of LED lights or explore the light table.
The best part is that SENSES is available for ALL KIDS ages 1-6. So that means that typically developing kids can come play with their disabled siblings and friends. This is what we call inclusion.
SENSES will open Feb. 1 and will work on a reservation basis to keep sessions small and prevent overstimulation. The cost is a very affordable $6 per child, with the potential for price breaks when purchasing in advance. Holly told me the price point was set to maintain sustainability, not profitability. In other words, she understands that money is tight for special needs families and doesn’t want anybody to walk away because they can’t pay. The admission price was set so that they can keep the doors open and everybody can enjoy the facility.
– Other than water bottles, no food or drinks are permitted in the gym.
– Scheduled session times include 3-4:30 p.m and 6-7:30 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays and 10-11:30 a.m. on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
– Depending on availability, the facility can be opened outside regularly scheduled times for therapists or local organizations to use with clients.
– SENSES is run entirely by volunteers. I’m told they will make every effort to ensure every child has a positive experience. So be patient and don’t hesitate to let them know what you think.
– To make a reservation, schedule a tour or for more information, contact Holly at 317-370-8238 or Cassie Donaldson at 317-512-5945.
1110 Amos Road, Suite A