01/2020
SENSORY THERAPY!

SENSORY THERAPY!

January, 2020

Sensory stimulation therapy (SST) is a therapy that aims to utilize the mechanisms of neural plasticity to help recover somatosensory functions. Sensory therapy is based on A. Jean Ayres' theory "Theory of Sensory Integration" which describes how the neurological system of processing and integrating sensory information from the body and the environment, contribute to emotional regulation, learning function, behaviour and participation in daily life. [1]

It was once thought that the brain was unchangeable and that its function had been determined from an early age. According to this theory, any brain damage was considered irreparable. This fatalistic view has been dramatically challenged by the theory of brain plasticity (Hallett, 1999, 2000, 2001a, 2001b). This refers to the brain's ability to restructure itself, form new connections, or adapt the strength of existing connections and therefore the brain is able to change. It is also found that the senses have a ‘plastic’ nature around them. People with sensory disorders have problems with the feeling of touch, smell, noises, taste, eyesight, body coordination and movement against gravity. Along with this they may have difficulty moving, coordinating and sensing when their body is in a certain space. [2]

Symptoms seen in cases of sensory disorders: [2]

  • The child is very sensitive or unresponsive to touch, movement, sight or sound
  • High or low level of activity
  • Loses focus quickly, poor attention to tasks
  • Difficulty in speaking, motor skills, academic achievement or coordination
  • Difficulty learning new tasks or discovering how to play with unfamiliar toys
  • Difficulty with tasks requiring the use of both hands at the same time
  • Difficulties in adapting to different environments and activities

One method involved in sensory therapy is Tacpac (Tacpac ™ A Tactile Approach to Communication Pack for Sensory Awareness). This method is based on two sensory elements that may be disordered in children: touch and communication. TacPac therapy is not very known in Albania, it is used in many paediatric rehabilitation centers, special schools in England & Ireland. TacPac is a technique that helps children with neurological and sensory integration difficulties, impaired verbal communication, and autism spectrum disorders.

 

 

Hilary Wainer the founder of Tacpac ™ Ltd. states that the main aim of this technique is building a "sensory" vocabulary, so there is a sensory communication between the child and the adult. The language we use is sensory, nonverbal, and children do it better than adults, as they do it all the time if they have not yet learned to speak. It combines the two main sensory inputs when using touch and music, and the person working with the child needs to understand how the input "works". The music and its processing are related to the limbic system. We have to follow the rhythm of the music to give consistency and we need to be confident of touch, to give the child confidence.

Both (touch and music) have to make sense when used at the same time, or else we would give the child a lot of sensory "bombardment" that means too much information / input at the same time, which we are avoiding. [3]

How does Tacpac work?

Before starting the therapy, we need to prepare the environment and all the facilities we need for the set we are using for each child. The music should be at a distance that can be heard and there should be no other distractions that may distract the children. Children should have their shoes removed and as little clothing as possible so that the skin is exposed. Towels are also needed if you are going to use water and blankets for relaxation. Tacpac begins with contact of some objects of daily life. In the background is a music based on the rhythm and pattern of contact with the child using specific objects for each set. Tacpac consists of 6 sets. Their duration depends on the child's response / feedback but usually each set should last 6 months.

It is time for the child's brain to get used to these external stimuli. He/she listens, observes, and feels in the skin and in this way begins to interact with the surrounding environment. Sensory input comes from the world of music

and touch. Music works on the limbic system and on the other hand the skin is the largest sensory organ in the human body that contains many receptors, and for a child with learning difficulties, touch may be their first contact.

The benefits and outcomes of this therapy only come if it becomes part of the child's routine. This therapy is done individually or in groups. We need to be alert to all the signs of communication we receive from body language,

facial expression, eye contact, sounds and sensitivity. Attention is a necessary part of practice and a better outcome is associated with good attention during therapy (Diller 1970). The child's eye-to-eye contact with the therapist encourages attention but often times the child has to see the objects during therapy in order to have the feedback we expect. We are trying to focus on building trust so that the receiver can communicate with us. As trust grows, so does communication. [3]

At Tek Ura we have incorporated sensory therapy into the rehabilitation protocol, mainly for children with cerebral palsy, and autism spectrum disorders. For 2 years these children receive this service for free at our center. The aim of our center is to make every person feel valued, involved and an active participant so we are pleased that this therapy gives these opportunities to the three groups of sensory therapy we have created.

During these two years a change in the behaviour of these children has been noticed by both the therapists and their parents. All mothers have noted an improvement in parent-child relationships. They have benefited from this therapy on how to productively interact with their child, significantly improving the relationship between them. Another aspect is that therapists have noticed is the increased ability of children to differentiate types of touch and sound. When a child begins sensory therapy, he or she may receive stimuli at the same time, which can result in reactions that may be disturbing, reflecting rejection and agitation on the part of the child. This is known as "Sensory bombardment"! Therapy allows children with sensory integration difficulties to interpret stimuli, plan actions and responses.

The benefits we have noticed regarding to the psychological side are related to: increasing children's attention to activities of daily living, reducing emotional outbursts and irritations (evidenced by the mothers of children with autism spectrum disorders), children's well-being (combining music with therapy gives them pleasure), socializing with other children in the group (especially children with autism spectrum disorders). We also noticed their tendency to make friends and socialize (a new thing for all children who were previously isolated at home and had never attended group therapy before). We have many stories of success with the children we work with. Basically, we are looking for the receivers- the children, to feel special, have fun and relax! In addition, we are looking for different signs of communication. In some cases, no major changes can be achieved from the beginning, this will come gradually. The important thing is to relax, observe, work, and the results will come. Touch is the basic element by which the child interacts with the people and environment around them and for those children whose communication is limited, the best thing is to find and practice alternative ways of communication. In these cases - sensory therapy at Tek Ura is a highly effective therapeutic intervention to achieve this goal.

SOME PICTURES DURING THERAPY (with parental permission to publish).

 

 

References:

 

  1. Ayres, A. Jean (2005). Sensory integration and the child: understanding hidden sensory challenges (25th anniversary ed., rev. and updated Ed.). Los Angeles, CA: WPS. p. 5. ISBN 978-087424-437-3.
  2. Kenneth A. Stern,MyChild TM Cerebral palsy.org 2020 Stern Law, PLLC   (https://www.cerebralpalsy.org/about-cerebral-palsy/treatment/therapy/sensory-integration-therapy)
  3. Tacpac Ltd (http://tacpac.co.uk/)
Pershkrimi: 
“TACPAC” A UNIQUE METHOD IN PAEDIATRIC REHABILITATION AT “TEK URA”
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