The use of the Sensory Environment in Rehabilitation for children with special needs is extensive. It encompasses all groups and stages of treatment. Through the use of assistive tools, the therapist can stimulate children’s senses and increase perception.
This case study focuses on a fundamental question: to what extent can the sensory environment be used in the treatment and rehabilitation of disabled children in rehabilitation centers?
Location and Human scope of the study
The research was carried out at the Sanad Association for children with Special Needs in Nablus, Palestine. The association has two sensory rooms. The staff follows sensory therapy principle as an integrated programme in the association.
A group of mothers with special needs founded the association in the city of Nablus in 2012. The organization’s founders believe in the importance of developing children’s abilities and self-concepts. With the aim to equip the children with the skills needed to have a productive and happy life.
The organization’s goal is to raise awareness about the importance of early detection and intervention for children. It emphasises the importance of first accepting the child’s condition before working on defining and implementing rehabilitation for him. The activities of the centre include the development of children’s physical, social, and mental abilities in order to increase their independence and participation in life.
The organisation receives 75 children, 22 of whom are female, and 53 of whom are male. Their ages range from two to fourteen years. The association’s children’s groups cater to those who have been diagnosed with autism. The association also receives cases involving cerebral palsy, hearing difficulties, motor disabilities, psychological issues, and behavioural disorders.
The research team used a semi-structured interview tool to conduct this study. Nidal Hanoun, a professional specialist within the association, was interviewed. Ms. Nidal joined the Sanad Association in 2018. There were 17 quantitative and qualitative questions in the interview.
Components of the Sensory Environment in Rehabilitation Centre
There are two sensory rooms in the center. Each of them comes with the following tools:
The specialist explained that each of these tools serves a specific purpose and achieves different results depending on three factors: the child’s condition, the age & development stage, and the stage of treatment that the child has reached.
The specialist mentioned the organization’s efforts to provide a sensory environment in all treatment rooms. As it has proven its effectiveness in numerous cases.
Typical session in Sensory Environment at Rehabilitation Centre
A standard session in the sensory room lasts forty minutes. After that, the specialist spends 10 mintues with the parents of the child to summarize the session & observations, and provide some recommendations if any.
The sessions begin by getting close to the child and learning about his emotions and moods. Then, depending on the condition and stage of treatment, gradually employ one of the sensory tools. The location of the session is determined by the child’s condition and sensory ability.
Typically, the therapist will talk with the child while swinging in a hammock, allowing him to relax and begin to interact and concentrate. During this time, the specialist plays music clips that the child enjoys while selecting appropriate lighting via the sensoryREADY. After ensuring that the child is integrated into the session and feels at ease, the specialist moves on to the sensory side of the session, employing appropriate tools for the purpose of the session. Children with sensory disorders frequently use the sensory tiles to stimulate nerve endings in their feet. As well as the tactile wall to stimulate hand touch.
For children with vestibular sense disorders, the specialist combines the hammock and the jockey swing with the spiral swing, and the side swing in an attempt to achieve random movements that increase the child’s nervous sensation and neurotransmission.
Using the sensoryREADY, the specialist uses educational and evaluative game groups with children who have cognitive and learning disabilities. She mentioned some of the games within the system that she uses:Eyes and Fingers games, Solve the Puzzle, Solve the Mazes, and Burst the Bubble. Gradual difficulty of the games makes it easier for the child to learn and develop.
Treatment using Sensory environment in Rehabilitation Centre
The specialist discussed the benefits of sensory tools for improving pronunciation, especially during the two-and-a-half-year language explosion. In some cases, the child might have a linguistic skills, but doesn’t want to speak for sensory or psychological reasons. With a specialist’s help and sensory tools, speech difficulties can be overcome.
Bubble tubes are an example. The child listens to random bubbles in the tube and tries to describe or express his surprise. Specialists use guided speech. The specialist said that in 2020, four children were rehabilitated within the sensory room, and began speaking better.
Infinity Mirror is used mostly with children with Autism. In the session, the child sits and looks at the mirror. He sees his reflection, with changing lighting and colours. This usually attracts his attention. The specialist practises guided speech. Some children appear to see themselves in the mirror for the first time, says the specialist.
She also discussed the impact of the sensory environment on the children’s mood, communication, and response during treatment. The sensory room provides psychological release and sensory stimulation. Behavioral issues affect many kids. Under the specialist’s supervision, their regular and organised presence in the sensory room improves their behaviour.
Children with tactile sensory issues or sensitivity feel better after being in the sensory room. Children can also use it to release negative energy.
Treatment and rehabilitation methods for using the sensory environment
Based on the experience of all specialists in using the sensory environment in rehabilitation centre over the previous years, it was clear that the most effective methodology for treatment and rehabilitation is the Learning through Playing methodology. The incorporation of technology into the rehabilitation process helps to support this. On the surface, it may appear that the child is simply playing. However, this is part of the preparations and plans made in the past in order to work on developing a skill, emptying myself, or developing new behaviour and knowledge.
Individualized Needs and Goals
The first step after the child arrives at the centre is to conduct a thorough medical examination, and obtain a medical report in order to evaluate his condition organically. This is done to ensure that the child’s inputs and outputs are safe. The doctor classifies the child’s condition. Following that, an evaluation session for the child is held in the presence of occupational, physiotherapists, and speech therapists (depending on the case) to analyse and study the case in the presence of the child’s parents.
Each specialist establishes goals to work toward. Then, present it to the center’s professional supervisor to ensure that the goals are measurable, achievable, and relevant. The first plan is typically three months long. Following the completion of the period, the professional supervisor re-evaluates the child’s condition and develops or modifies the treatment plan for a longer or shorter period.
The specialist gave an example of a part of goal: colour perception. Specialists work together in an integrated manner on this goal only through an agreed period. The speech therapist uses the sensoryREADY, lighting, and games to teach the child how to pronounce the colours correctly. To distinguish colours perceptually, the educational specialist employs the lighting table and the interactive table. Oil tiles are also used by the occupational therapist to blend movement with the colours on the floor. It is important to note that the process continues at home with the cooperation and follow-up of the parents.
Children’s receptiveness to sensory environment in rehabiliation centre
During the sensory environment therapy journey, each group’s response is different. Because the sensory environment is a tool that aids the specialist’s work, it is primarily determined by the treatment plan. The sensory environment in rehabilitation improves the way a person responds to rehabilitation, by giving them a specialised and appropriate place to work on their case, lowering their stress, and making it easier for them to talk and pay attention.
Children on the autism spectrum disorder, for example, are typically the most sensory challenged. As a result, the presence of a sensory environment in rehabilitation aids in providing an appropriate environment for them to receive rehabilitation. In addition to the sensoryREADY, which plays an important role in the development of visual communication, the touch wall, sensory floor, bubble tubes, and infinity mirror are commonly used. The rate of response and development in autistic children increases significantly.
The sensoryREADY is also used with children with Down syndrome, who have more cognitive challenges. It helps them develop these skills. Aside from using the light table to learn shapes, colors, and sand painting on the table top.
Success Stories and Testimonials
Ahmed, 12-year-old Ahmed has been diagnosed with autism. He received treatment at the association for 2.5 years. Additionally, he attended three sessions per week at the center’s sensory room. Ahmed has sensory disorders and is extremely sensitive to sounds. He struggles to eat because the sound of chewing bothers and stresses him out. He occasionally experiences seizures in his extremities.
His condition significantly improved after several sessions in the sensory room using the touching wall and the touching floor, as well as training him to rub and jump on the various touches. His treatment programme included friction from rough textures and gradual sensory stimulation. and thoughtfully and gradually started playing educational games and videos about food in the sensoryREADY. During the sessions, the physiotherapist massaged his hands and feet, and used the touch floor and optical fibers. where she could do so for longer periods of time.
The specialist mentioned that the sensory room is sometimes utilised by parents of young children as part of preliminary studies with the goal of providing them with a psychological release. Positive and welcome comments have been made. For some parents, the experiment should be repeated on occasion.
Result and Summary
- Many different groups of children with special needs receive treatment using the sensory environment rehabilitation
- The opportunity for improvement and healing within the sensory environment increases and offers a means of communication with children.
- Through its interactive and educational content, the sensoryREADY significantly contributes to the development of children’s perceptual and sensory abilities.
- The sensory room can be used to treat and rehabilitate children as well as to provide psychological comfort for their parents.
- When used early in the course of treatment, sensory tools could help children speak.