A sensory assessment room has been opened in Cork to help children with autism to find their perfect assistance dog.

Sensing something beautiful

A room has been expertly renovated at a Cork charity to provide a comfortable setting for children with autism who are awaiting an assistance dog.

The dedicated sensory assessment room at Irish Guide Dogs on Model Farm Road features sensory equipment designed to fit with the differing needs of the children the charity works with.

The sensory room is used during the initial interview assessment to determine if an assistance dog is the right fit for the child and their family.

Through the availability of the sensory room, the child and their family meet some of the dogs where they are encouraged to interact with the animals at their own pace and comfort levels.

One area of the room is a safe, child friendly multi-sensory, activity space where children can play, bounce, touch sensory items and jump. This is preferred by children who like to regulate their overwhelming emotions through action touch and movement.

The second area is a low sensory calm, dark space where children can self-regulate and feel less overwhelmed while they hide and listen to their favourite calming music or video clips.

Tim O’Mahony, Chief Executive Officer at Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind explained how the assessment room is used: “We are so delighted to have this area available. It marks a further milestone in the development of our Assistance Dog Programme.

“Some families travel for over 3 hours for their assessment, so it is imperative that we are able to provide the children with a safe, welcoming environment that can cater for their unique needs, setting them up for success in our Assistance Dog Programme. This area will have a huge impact on so many families.”

As the new room welcomes its first clients, Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind has extended its heartfelt thanks to Emma Carroll and the whole team at Avolon Aviation; Puppies in Training of Urso and Tango; Senco Sensory Solutions, Dublin; Occupational Therapist Linda Horgan; and Area Flooring, Cork.