The Specialized Developmental Disability Emergency Program being established on COMPACT’s Hillcrest Campus in Hot Springs, Arkansas is set to open October 1 st of 2020. This program is being established to serve children and adolescents with developmental disabilities who have been removed from abusive and neglectful circumstances. These children and adolescents may have any number of developmental and/or mental health conditions. Conditions can include, Intellectual Developmental Disorders, Communication Disorders (such as Language and Speech Disorders), Autism Spectrum Disorders, Specific Learning Disorders, Attention- Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorders, Motor Disorders (such as Tourette’s), and an array of other mental health conditions as a result of trauma and environmental factors they have experienced.
Our program is designed to receive these children and adolescents as they are and then provide them with a sensory rich environment meant to captivate their minds and meet their sensory needs. Decades of research have unearthed valuable information that informs our cottage environment and directs our program. Children and adolescents with the above listed conditions are still able to learn, grow, and contribute, yet the learning and living environment in which they will thrive is much different from what most of us required. For many of them, their autonomic nervous system, the system in the body that governs their fight-flight-freeze responses, does not function properly and they regularly find themselves in a fight, flight, or freeze response while no real threat exists. Any number of sights, sounds, smells, and feelings can trigger these responses. This constant triggering of this survival response can take on the appearance of anger, defiance, fear, and/or withdrawal. These children and adolescents can live in a constant state of sensory arousal, disorganization, or overload. With proper assessment of their conditions and sensory needs and provision of appropriate services, their quality of life can be improved immensely.
Our Developmental Disability Services Cottage will be equipped with rooms designed to meet the myriad of needs these children and adolescents will have. A crash and bump room will allow them opportunity to play, exercise, and laugh which can help with self-regulation. A sensory room will provide activities that satisfy needs involving vision, smell, sound and touch with a primary goal of encouraging motor skill development. A calming room will be equipped with items to calm the senses such as cozy chairs that hug and bubble tubes, mirrors, and sound projectors to create wonder and calm the mind. Bedrooms will contain weighted stuffed animals, compression sheets, noise canceling headphones, Cozy Caves, and hanging hammock chairs designed to provide each child and adolescent with a sanctuary to which they can retreat when they find themselves over stimulated or simply ready for a good night of rest. This home will be staffed with 24-hour awake staff trained to address their specific needs and provide them with the nourishment and nurturance they need. Professional and clinical staff will work to accurately assess the conditions of these children and adolescents and provide needed treatment to help them achieve the highest degree of independence possible.
COMPACT is honored to serve such a deserving population and is grateful for all who have given to make this sanctuary available to these vulnerable children and adolescents.