Jo SEN Leader Magazine Issue 5

Using sensory stories | 05

Using sensory stories: The importance of sensory learning Joanna Grace explains how childrenwith disabilities can benefit from stories that are told by sharing sensory experiences.

Summary + How sensory stimulation helps cognitive development. + Using sensory experiences to enrich the lives of children with PMLD.

+ Helping to demonstrate learning. + Creating your own sensory stories.

O ver time our brain takes in information received from the senses and uses it to build neural pathways in our mind. As a baby, when we hear something and turn our head, see something and reach out for it, we are building our neural pathways. Repetition of these experiences makes our neural pathways stronger and forms connections between them, which results in a better understanding of the world. “ Do not underestimate how much of our early development we do on our own. ” Of course we gain a lot from being played with, from having people dangle toys in front of us and talk to us, but do not underestimate quite how much of our early development we do on our own. Now consider the child who cannot turn their head when they hear something, whose physical disability means they are unable to reach out for the object they’ve seen. It can be easy for us to assume that someone with profound physical disabilities will have cognitive difficulties as well, and whilst it is certainly true that they often co-occur, I challenge readers to consider how much could be down to the lack of stimulation. If you are unable to access sensory stimulation for yourself you will be on the back foot when it comes to your cognitive development.

January 2014 | SEN LEADER

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