Sensory stimulation is the activation of one or more of the five human senses. It can help people of all ages, who may have a physical disability, learning disability, health condition or mental health condition, to communicate, experience positive emotions and bring about relaxation.
There are different types of sensory aids that stimulate different senses, with some of the most popular including:
Many sensory aids can be used together, if appropriate, to provide a variety of sensory experiences, and these should be tailored to the specific needs of the person using them.
Sensory aids include a range of equipment and toys that provide auditory (sound), visual (sight) olfactory (smell) proprioceptive (movement/touch) and oral (taste) stimulation. They can help to promote brain activity and motor skills or be used for relaxation and therapy.
They can be used with people of all ages and those who experience or engage in the following behaviours may benefit from sensory aids:
Things to consider
It is really important to understand what a person likes and dislikes and what needs you are hoping to meet using sensory activities. This will help guide you in which equipment to buy and use, and will ensure the person you are supporting is likely to benefit from the sensory therapy.
There are a number of sensory kits available, such as the Visual Effects Sensory Bag, Optical Effects Sensory Bag and Body Massage Sensory Bag which are perfect for group use. These are also great to use at home with one person, who may enjoy exploring different items in the kit and which will prevent boredom.
You may need to look at changing the environment at home, school or care home, in order to carry out sensory activities in the most effective way. For example, you may need to create a quiet space without interruption, or a comfortable area for you to sit, enjoy and explore sensory aids.
Our sense of smell is really important and different aromas can help stimulate the nervous system and limbic system, which controls emotions. Using aromatherapy for people who enjoy smells can help promote relaxation and relieve stress.