A recent study published in the journal Behavioral Neuroscience shows significant effects of in-home sensory-stimulating practices for autistic children. Researchers at University of California, Irvine, followed the behavioral changes of 28 autistic boys, ages 3-12, for six months. The study population was divided into two groups based on age and severity of autism symptoms. All of the boys continued standard behavioral therapy, but 13 of the boys underwent daily “sensory-motor enrichment exercises” designed by the researchers. The exercises were designed to provide multi-sensory stimulation through smell and touch. The parents of the experimental group were given kits containing essential oil fragrances and various materials (smooth foam, aluminum, sponges, sandpaper, carpet, bubble wrap, etc.) and instructed to lead 15-30 minute sessions, twice daily, utilizing a combination of the kit items in at least 4 activities designed by the researchers. The children’s behavior was monitored throughout the six months and after assessment, the researchers concluded that 42 percent of children in the enrichment group showed marked improvements in social behavior and response to sights and sounds, while only 7 percent of the standard therapy group improved in these ways.
These findings hold great promise for the future of early intervention and therapy for autism, because the strategies tested by the researchers at University of California, Irvine are affordable and easy caregivers to implement, and thus sustainable.
“Sensory-motor Enrichment Effective Therapy for Boys with Autism.” UPI. N.p., 19 May 2013. Web. 20 May 2013. <http://www.upi.com/Health_News/2013/05/19/Sensory-motor-enrichment-effective-therapy-for-boys-with-autism/UPI-94471368987668/>.