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Approaching sensory stimulation in children with Down Syndrome

  • 12 October 2021

At Cromo Suma Foundation (Spain) we approach sensory stimulation therapy in a comprehensive manner. We work with the exteroceptive senses, such as taste, hearing, touch, smell and sight; and with the proprioceptive senses, such as vestibular, touch and proprioception itself. The therapeutic intervention consists of stimulating the senses through motivating and meaningful activities,directed by the therapist, to achieve the child’s active participation.

It is imperative to have an objective in mind when working therapeutically.

The first thing to keep in mind is that each child, whether with Down Syndrome, or with any learning and/or developmental difficulty, has his or her specific challenges as well as preferences. Thanks to the tools offered by our Multisensory Room, we can implement various therapeutic processes based on the ability to feel, inherent to human beings, regardless of their abilities or difficulties. In this way, we achieve the objectives proposed in each therapeutic session, always personalized and adapted to each child.

It is important to note that all the interventions carried out, both in the multisensory room and outside it, have:

  • A goal: no goal, no intervention.
  • A user.
  • One action (or more than one).

With these three prerequisites, we can provide speech therapy and academic reinforcement sessions, for example, with which the child engages in a sensory game we offer, while keeping their attention and participation throughout and, in turn, this allows us to clearly observe their communicative intent. Our sensory room also gives us the possibility to work repetitively on the same concept, thus maintaining the child’s sustained attention, while also engaging in a much more attractive activity.

On the other hand, we also use the tools offered by the multisensory room and its infinite possibilities of intervention for physiotherapy and psycho-neuromotor therapy sessions. During this time we can add a third person in the session (the mother or father, for example) and work on the bond between parents and child, as well as the separation between both people, thereby promoting autonomy and emotional regulation.

An enriched environment

All our sessions have a start and finish ritual in order to help the child to prepare for the upcoming activities. This helps improve the communication and the development of one’s identity. We use different sensory, visual, olfactory, tactile, auditory, gustatory, proprioceptive and vestibular tools to create the most favorable work environment for the child, where he or she is the one who directs the exploration of the environment. By creating this enriched environment with concrete (and strategically planned) stimuli, we improve learning which in turn helps brain plasticity while also developing the so-called “sensory awakening”.

Sensory stimulation

Sensory stimulation is both therapeutic and educational. Sometimes, we conduct sessions in the multisensory room while combining different objectives:

  • We seek emotional regulation and gaze integration in order to learn colors, by using the bubble tube.
  • We work on reading and syllable recognition using black light.
  • We use the fibre optic strands to create a scenario where marine animals are trapped in a net. We place marine animals on or inside the net. The child must “save” the animals and return them to the sea, one by one, with the help of a magnetized rod, working on dexterity, visual-motor coordination and manipulative motor skills.
  • We explain a story in the multisensory room using the light table and the interactive panel to highlight concepts which stand out while the rest of the environment is deprived of stimuli, This helps us to work on language development and communication.
  • We play by standing on the water bed, recreating the waves of the sea, to work on tonicity and strength in the legs, while stimulating symbolic play for cognitive development.

 

There are endless tools at our disposal to achieve the goals we set for ourselves in a sensory room. The sessions are very meaningful for the user and bring us important results we seek: a sensory awakening.

These spaces also allow us to work on specific objectives in different ways, and facilitate interaction and participation amongst those involved. Thanks to our room, we create magical and unique environments that make our children live an active, rich and emotional experience as they develop.

 

 

This article was written by María Roa, speech therapist; and Laia Macías, sociologist, at Cromo Suma. If you want to know more about the Cromo Suma team and their project, we invite you to visit their official website.

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