This year for Give Local York, Typical Life Corporation will raise funds to purchase stimulating or calming objects and build out sensory spaces at its York Day Program.
When Typical Life Corporation (TLC) Program Specialist Andrew Bauer met Paul (named changed for privacy), many staff members were scared of him. Paul was aggressive. He struggled to communicate his needs and often lashed out in frustration.
Andrew had a deep understanding of what Paul may be going through because of his personal connection to family members with Autism. He approached Paul’s behavior differently. Andrew knew Paul loved to bounce whatever he was holding, so he and other TLC staff installed a ball pit in Paul’s TLC residential home.
The staff noticed an instant difference. Paul found the ball pit to be the perfect place to redirect his aggression and calm himself. It became a haven and important tool in the staff’s toolbox to assist Paul. Today, Paul rarely has an aggressive outburst. He has learned to seek out sensory stimulation when he becomes frustrated.
Having their best day
Paul’s success with sensory stimulation is a story that TLC staff hope to repeat as they gear up for this year’s Give Local York campaign. TLC will seek raise funds to outfit its sensory spaces to benefit over 30 individuals at its York Day Program.
Director of Behavior Supports Allyson Gentile has seen the power of sensory objects to help individuals in tense moments, and the importance of individuals learning which long-term tools can help them to self-regulate.
“Individuals may have the same diagnosis, but their wants and needs are different,” Allyson says. “We want to offer things that help individuals have their best day.”
The COVID-19 pandemic shifted the way individuals in the program join TLC. Now, many underutilized spaces are being redefined into zones for hyper- and hypo-sensory needs.
TLC aims to create spaces for each need, whether for additional stimulation for those who need to redirect aggression, or quiet, calming influences for those who need to step away.
“Our goal here,” Allyson shared, “is to provide the space for individuals to get the sensory stimulation they need.”
The effort requires many types of tools, both big and small. From small fidget toys and putties to large swings and body socks, different sensory items help different individuals at different times.
For Andrew, seeing the change in Paul, in his own daughters, and in other individuals who incorporate sensory objects into their lives has underscored his desire to expand their availability at the TLC York Day Program.
“Don’t view individuals or people with intellectual or developmental disabilities as anybody different,” Andrew says. “They are some of the smartest, kindest people you will ever meet, trust me.”
Remember us during Give Local York
Give Local York is May 4-5, 2023. It is York County’s biggest giving day of the year. The event offers local nonprofits the opportunity to increase awareness of their mission while raising funds and connecting with new donors. Learn more and donate to TLC at givelocalyork.org.