Using sensory stories to inform on care plans and needs
Observing reactions to a range of sensory stimuli enables you to build a picture of an individual’s sensory preferences. This record of likes, dislikes, motivators, and triggers can help parents, carers and teaching staff make informed choices to enhance daily life in areas such as diet, sensory needs, care plans, daily activities and leisure activities.
Exploring the senses through exposure to stimuli (story props), helps to build a bank of motivators that can calm an individual when they are anxious or stressed. Knowing an individual's triggers is an invaluable tool in informing on the writing of behaviour plans and strategies. You may seek to avoid some triggers and work on de-sensitising others that may be necessary e.g., teeth brushing or hair cutting, through repeated gradual, exposure to build acceptance and tolerance of the activity.
When introducing new sensory stimuli start with sight and sound. Build up to touch, smell, and taste. When building up to taste start by introducing the stimuli to the tip of the tongue, building up in quantity to the tip of an egg spoon, 1/2 a teaspoon to taking a full bite. Always ensure you progress at the pace the listener sets. If the individual dislikes touching an item, try hand over hand, see if they will touch it through gloves or use tweezers to pick up the item to explore further.
*It is important never to force stimuli upon an individual. At any point if they are showing signs that they are not enjoying the experience stop immediately. *Please see the note on allergies click here
Exposure to sensory stimuli through rhyming multi-sensory stories builds the individual's confidence to explore new and unfamiliar sensory experiences. Observe how the individual indicates their likes/dislikes. Are these expressed through physical, verbal, sign, communication boards or other communication methods? Can the learner communicate a rejection of a non-preferred item or request 'more' of a favourable item?
When used in a safe setting rhyming multi-sensory stories can be used to prepare the individual for visits out of their daily routine such as a visit to the dentist.