Lee's Summit Journal

Grant helps LS nonprofit meet sensory needs of adults with developmental disabilities

The Greater Lee’s Summit Healthcare Foundation is providing an $8,400 grant to Developing Potential to help build more sensory experiences for patrons with developmental disabilities.
The Greater Lee’s Summit Healthcare Foundation is providing an $8,400 grant to Developing Potential to help build more sensory experiences for patrons with developmental disabilities. Courtesy photo

For many with developmental disabilities, interacting with people is a stressful experience.

Some may be overwhelmed by too much light or sound. Others may need more touch or motion than most people.

At Developing Potential, a day facility in Lee’s Summit for adults with developmental disabilities, meeting those sensory needs is often a challenge.

A 2019 grant from the Greater Lee’s Summit Healthcare Foundation is helping Developing Potential improve service options with a room designed to wrap controlled sensory input around patrons.

The space, called a sensory cocoon, has lights, sound and motion elements that can be altered to meet the specific needs of the individual. It’s a place for people to relax and shake off stress.

Amy Cox, the nonprofit’s development director, says the sensory rooms are based on the Snoezelen Room concept, which focuses on a controlled multisensory environment as a form of therapy.

“Snoezelen is effective for many diagnoses, particularly for people having autism,” Cox said. “The behavior exhibited by people with autism incorporates three main components: difficulties with social interaction, communication and sensory processing.”

While Developing Potential does not yet have a complete Snoezelen room, the grant from the Healthcare Foundation helps put together a significant piece of the service. The room is part of an expansion of services Developing Potential is working toward with the hope of building a much larger facility in the coming years.

The group is in the middle of a $3.5 million campaign to build a 20,000-square-foot facility next to the current location.

Executive Director Rebecca Case explains the new facility will be the largest of their three locations, and will enable them to double the number of people currently served. In addition to the Lee’s Summit location at 251 N.W. Executive Way, Developing Potential also has locations in Kansas City and Independence

Developing Potential started in Lee’s Summit in 2012 after families requested they expand their services to the area.

“I think we’re really responding to the community need,” Case said. “Lee’s Summit is a great access location to individuals coming from several areas. The excellent school system brings families here and we provide a continuum of care that is needed as they leave high school.”

Developing Potential serves adults ages 21 to 65. Since many in Lee’s Summit have deep roots in the community, Case has found they city to be welcoming, noting that the group’s mission allows families to stay together in Lee’s Summit.

Providing a day service during the week allows people to stay in their homes and avoid residential facilities, Case said.

This is the third time Developing Potential has received a grant from the Greater Lee’s Summit Healthcare Foundation. Foundation board member Jeanne Willerth says the Foundation appreciates the way Developing Potential provides a need for the well-being of residents and families in the community.

“When we look at healthcare of the community we like to address all sorts of areas,” Willerth said.

The foundation finds value in grants to help get programs off the ground, like these features for a new service offering at Developing Potential.

Last year, the foundation supported the purchase of another sensory integration piece – a bubble wall. The 2019 grant is for $8,400.