How do we experience the world which surrounds us – through a complex mixture of sensory perceptions

Zhivko is a boy who tends to avoid meeting and communicating with other people. He would usually spend his time in front of a window, looking outside – as if he could be with other people only if he is safe behind a barrier. He doesn’t speak and typically communicates with difficulty. Similarly to Zhivko, children and youths living with disabilities usually have problem sensory perceptions. This is why, oftentimes, even seemingly mundane situations can be very confusing to them.

These children and youths, which comprise a big proportion of those who live in our family-type homes, have great difficulty with their sensory perceptions. This, in turn, has a significant impact on their social and communication skills. It also affects the coordination of their motor actions; they often react unusually to touch or movement, they shy away from communal games, they tip-toe when they walk. Conversely, they could also actively seek touch, speak loudly, fill their mouths or stumble into furniture or people. They are often vigilant so that they can protect themselves from the dangers of a confusing and frightening world.

To help Zhivko and the other children, who live with such disabilities, we created a program, which, through sensory stimulation, allows them to overcome their difficulties. With this therapy, we are developing and building on the children’s motor skills and behavior. Through this program, we stimulate every sense: touch, balance, hearing, taste, smell, sight, the sense of one’s body position in space, as well as the inner sensory environment, which regulates sleep, hunger, and thirst. With the use of hammocks, sensory pathways, massages, foam, pressotherapy, among other methods, we are giving the children and youths sensory stimulations which significantly improve their condition.

Children eagerly await the sensory therapy activities and engage in them with pleasure. After the therapy sessions, they display a much lower tendency for irritation and self-abuse, their focus is improved, as well as the balance and coherence of their actions.

Thanks to sensory therapy we are seeing positive changes in their behavior. Zhivko, for example, has become significantly more open to communication, he awaits therapy sessions eagerly, he is happy to be a part of the group, he laughs out loud, he even says a few words occasionally and is visibly happier than before.

We carry out the activities that form sensory therapy as part of the “Find me. Look at me. Support me. Support for independent living and social inclusion.” funded by the European Union as part of the “Human Resources Development” operational programme.


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