Family Respite Care Services opens new sensory and therapy lending library

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Shelly Birkelo
Wednesday, September 16, 2015

BELOIT—Family Respite Care Services for Rock County has opened a sensory and therapy lending library in its Beloit office.

Executive Director Whitney Walraven answered these questions about the new library:

Q.: What is a sensory and therapy lending library?

A: This new program has equipment that can help calm those with special needs, from autism to sensory integration disorders, so they are better able to navigate a world full of sensory input. The equipment can be borrowed for up to five weeks for a small deposit.

The equipment includes a vest that puts weight on its wearer's central nervous system to create a safe, calming effect and noise-reduction headphones that keep noise from becoming too overwhelming.

“Those with SID are not able to organize information that comes in through their senses to function properly. Some can't handle being touched or talked to, while others might be overwhelmed by smells and sounds that can send them into a tantrum when it's really a sensory meltdown. So the tools we are putting in the library are going to have a calming effect,” Walraven said.

Q: When is the library open and where is it located?

It is open from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday in the Family Respite Care Services office, Suite 103 of 250 Garden Lane, Beloit, or by appointment by calling 608-758-0956.

Q: Who can use the library?

A: Parents, providers, volunteers, caregivers and professionals who serve those with special needs can use the library. Users will be people who attend Family Respite Care Services programs, live in Rock County and have completed lending library agreement forms.

Q: How does it work?

Parents can view a list of items that can be borrowed on Family Respite Care Services website, rockcountyrespite.org, its Facebook page, by calling Walraven at 608-758-0956 and requesting a hard-copy list or by visiting the office.

“If a parent finds that the sensory or therapy tool is beneficial, then they have the option of buying it, and Family Respite Care Services can help with the purchase process to ensure they are getting the best price,” she said.

Q: How many items does the library offer and how long can they be borrowed?

A: No more than two items may be checked out at a time. They can be borrowed for up to four weeks with a one-week renewal option.

A late fee of $10 will be imposed for any items returned after the agreed date. A friendly reminder will be sent by email or phone one week before and one day before items are due.

“They can technically get an item up to five weeks as long as there is no extensive waiting list and we can accommodate them,” Walraven said.

Q: How much does it cost to borrow something?

A: Deposits range from $5 to $20, depending on the value of the item being borrowed. The deposits are returned when items come back in good condition.

Q: What did starting this library cost?

A: The setup cost was $5,500, which was covered by ECOLAB and the William Cronin Foundation.

“We're using funding provided to get what we have and will continue to grow as the need increases through fundraising or writing more grant proposals to support it,” Walraven said.

Q: What's the most important benefit of a program such as this?

A: “There is no guarantee if the item borrowed is going to be effective or not, so this is a practical way to try something before buying,” Walraven said.

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