Sensory room a ‘wish’ come true

Published 10:31 am Monday, June 19, 2017

It’s a special room for a special girl.

A sensory room is a place full of pleasant features — special sounds, light displays, pictures, pretty scents and other interesting items that lighted balls that change colors and chairs that bounce or vibrate.

It’s a room that’s perfect for 8-year-old Madison Boatman. Madison has congenital toxoplasmosis, a condition that prevents her from being able to walk or express herself like other children. So when her parents, Ray and Monica Boatman, contacted the Make-A-Wish Foundation chapter ion Jackson the idea of a sensory room where she could experience and enjoy a treat for her senses seemed the perfect fit.

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Madison got her look at the room Saturday afternoon.

“I told them I knew they did trips, but we felt Madison would not really benefit from a trip, and she tends to get over-stimulated; loud noises and flashing lights bother her,” Monica Boatman said, “And she is really more comfortable at home. So a sensory room seemed a better idea.”

The people with Make-A-Wish in Jackson said they had never done a sensory room, she said, although they were aware other chapters had.

After Boatman called Make-A-Wish, the chapter’s officials called the Junior Auxiliary in Vicksburg, which is the local contact for the organization, and asked them to get in touch with the Boatmans’ about the room and develop a plan.

“We partner with Make-A-Wish,” Melissa Smithhart said. She said Madison’s room was the fifth project they’ve done. She said two more Make-A-Wish projects are set for the summer, and another is in process.

“We met with Madison and her parents, and after discussing with them, decided to build the sensory room,” said Smithhart, JA’s Make-A-Wish project chairman. “We wanted to include things that would affect the senses — see, hear, smell and feel.”

Ideas for items for the room, Boatman said, came from online searches, discussions with Make-A-Wish officials and discussions with Madison’s teacher and therapist. All the equipment was provided by Make-A-Wish.

“I looked at that equipment online, and it’s expensive,” Boatner said. “There was no way we could have afforded it.”

The equipment for Madison’s room arrived Friday, and was installed Saturday in the morning by three JA members and two Make-A-Wish representatives, while Madison and her family visited the Jackson Zoo.

Madison’s room is a marvel of color and activity. Lighted balls stay on a mat in the center of the room. One lounge-type chair covered with a several strands of fiber optic lights stands in one corner. A second spring chair that bounces sits in the opposite corner. A tube light with fish sits between two mirrors in another corner.

“We also have therapy balls and a player to play soothing sounds,” Smithhart said. A projector that will display pictures on an opposite wall is on order.

Madison’s reaction to her special place was made in her favorite means of communication, humming. She the looked over the fiber optic lights as she fingered them, and hummed as she was bounced in the spring chair.

“This is awesome; I love it,” her mother said. “This is her special place.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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