‘Sensory canoes’ and climbing walls: Inside NYC’s recovery program for students with disabilities

‘Sensory canoes’ and climbing walls: Inside NYC’s recovery program for students with disabilities

Five-year-old Bradley often struggles to sit still and is prone to wandering. But on a recent Saturday morning, he was calm, sprawled on a bean bag chair in a Brooklyn classroom, the lights turned down, and his socks cast aside.

The only glow came from four illuminated vertical tubes filled with bubbles and a laptop playing soothing piano music. One therapist narrated breathing exercises while another gently squeezed his arms and legs.

Bradley, who has autism and is non-verbal, was participating in an education department program to help make up for occupational and physical therapies that were often difficult or impossible to deliver remotely. The initiative, called Sensory Exploration, Education & Discovery (SEED), serves students with disabilities who have sensory issues that are “dramatically impacting their school performance,” said Suzanne Sanchez, the education department’s senior director of therapy services who helps oversee the program.

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