SERV joins the #GivingTuesday movement

Help us create a Multi-Sensory Environment

for SERV consumers with intellectual disabilities


 SERV Behavioral Health System, Inc., which provides residential and support services to special-needs individuals throughout New Jersey, has joined #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving that harnesses the collective power of individuals, communities and organizations to encourage philanthropy.

 Occurring this year on Nov. 29, #GivingTuesday is held annually on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday to kick-off the holiday giving season and inspire people to give back in impactful ways to the charities and causes they support.

DylanDylan runs his fingers through a bowl of dry rice searching for objects. This item in the Multi-Sensory Room at the SERV’s Progressive Achievement Center promotes tactile stimulation. SERV’s #GivingTuesday cause is to raise $2,000 to purchase multi-sensory equipment for our two Progressive Achievement Centers’ (PAC) rehabilitative day programs in Ewing and Cranford, N.J., for individuals with intellectual disabilities. And, if we raise $2,000, one of our generous donors will match the funds up to $2,000, thereby allowing us to purchase $4,000 worth of items for these two “safe haven” rooms. Our aim is to give our consumers with sensory impairments a place to go to where it is easy on the senses and even a little bit of fun. It is not necessarily a place for learning as much as it is a place to reintegrate or come back to one’s self to de-stress and regain composure.

At PAC, we serve approximately 75 adults primarily diagnosed with intellectual disabilities and Autism Spectrum disorder. Many individuals also demonstrate severe behavioral challenges.  Approximately 25% of PAC participants are on the Autism Spectrum. Another 41% are dually diagnosed with an intellectual disability and mental illness. We currently support two individuals with early onset of Alzheimer’s/dementia in addition to an intellectual disability.

In 2014, PAC, with the assistance of SERV Behavior Specialists, created experimental multi-sensory rooms in each program location (with minimal funds) to study the effects on our consumers. We have found that our consumers enjoy being able to spend time in the room when they have stress, anxiety, aggression or a need to get away from loud sounds. The multi-sensory room is designed to deliver stimuli to various senses -- vision, touch, smell, hearing, taste, balance, and relation to people/objects -- using lighting effects, color, sounds, textiles, music, scents, and more.

The variety of items in the room helps to calm the consumers so they can get back on track and resume their normal routine. We have also noticed reductions in self-injurious behaviors, stress, improvements in staff/consumer interaction, longer periods between behavior episodes, and better overall attendance at program.

Collage 2SERV’s current Multi-Sensory Room, created with minimal funds, allows Progressive Achievement Center consumers to enjoy a range of experiences that stimulates all the senses. Specialized equipment purchased with Giving Tuesday donations will help to enhance therapy, learning and relaxation for individuals with intellectual disabilities and Autism Spectrum Disorder.SERV would like to expand this component of our PAC day program to offer a wider variety of specialized multi-sensory stimuli for our consumers. PAC has many individuals who are tactilely defensive (underdeveloped sense of touch). For the hyposensitive individual, we may use items such as putty or weighted balls to give the person sensory input. Weighted blankets and vests would also be beneficial to promote acceptance of the human touch. Among the additional items we hope to purchase for both venues are video rockers with vibration, solar system planetariums, sensory bubble tower lamps, fiber optic lights, auditory feedback phones, sensory games and a variety of textured materials.

We believe an expanded implementation of our current sensory room can help lead to more independence and self-determination for adults with intellectual challenges. 

Please consider making a gift in any amount to the Multi-Sensory Environment Fund. Remember, your gift will be matched by our donor up to $2,000. TO DONATE, Click here and write “Giving Tuesday” in the Description box.

Please forward this on to your family, friends and colleagues and share on Facebook to help get the word out about  #GivingTuesday at SERV.

Thank you for your support!