website should not
be construed as medical or therapy advice and is provided only as
general information. Please consult your physician and other health
professionals for specific advice.
Stimulation to receptors enable us to take in information
from the environment:
Visual receptors in our eyes enable vision
Auditory receptors in our ears enable hearing
Tactile receptors in our skin enable touch
Olfactory receptors in our noses enable smell
Gustatory receptors on our tongues enable taste
Proprioception receptors in muscles and joints tell
us where our body is in space
Vestibular receptors in our inner ears tell us about
movement and balance.
Outdoor Education Learn about the
educational/therapeutic benefits to outdoor experiences
all need stimulation and much as been written about the effects of
stimulation on prisoners in solitary confinement and institutionalized
who did not receive proper care.
may hallucinate or stimulate themselves by head banging, rocking or
biting. Sensory stimulation and interaction with the environment is
critical to maintain the highest
level of awareness and connectedness
stimulation refers to the
impact the environment has
minds and bodies as we receive
organs and our brains interpret this input. Usually sensory
involves one person providing
the stimulation to another person
is passively receiving a massage or has fur rubbed on his
sometimes a person can merely
outside to enjoy the
visual stimulation of
the trees, olfactory stimulation of flowers,
auditory stimulation of birds, tactile
stimulation of the wind and
stimulation of the rocking chair. Click on photo for
therapists often talk
about providing sensory
to a person who is so disabled she is only able
to passively receive
the stimulation. This may be a coma
developmentally delayed child or a
victim of Alzheimer's
disease. Sensory stimulation
is used as a way to involve the
person with the environment,
bring pleasure and it provides a medium
with a person who otherwise, has limited abilities to
integration is very
different than sensory
active participation. Therapists
guide children to develop adaptive
responses to sensory
based activities. For example, the child who
learns how to
pump his legs to swing independently has developed an
important adapted response to the vestibular and
pro proprioceptive input of swinging.
other hand is passive and the
therapist is providing the stimulation to
Perhaps the person will smile in response and be more
aware of the environment but the goal of therapy is not
specifically to promote adaptive responses.
provide visual stimulation from
the very beginning with both beautiful objects
in the natural world and toys
such as picture books and
who are passive may not look
around or be able
to understand what they
are seeing in
the distance. Therefore, they
benefit from stimulating
objects being brought close to the face.
The movement and sounds
of mobiles stimulate
babies to visually explore and reach for objects.
combine both auditory
and visual stimulation are great because the
sound will attract the
person's attention to look at the object. This
ball makes an
sound when the beads move
around and the
movement of the beads
catches the eye.
tubes can be filled with
interesting objects that make
tube is rotated.
This tube is sold to hold long
bulbs. The contents
can be little pieces of bright
beads, jewelry pieces, necklace
bright and shiny and
on the picture for a larger view. Tornado tubes
involve purchasing the small
plastic piece in the center which has threads on
each side. Screw a soda bottle to each end.
Fill the bottle
with water. You can add food coloring,
glitter or even shiny
for a visual effect. It is fun to watch the water
swirl down into the lower tube. Place the
person's hand on the
bottle to feel the movement.
with moving parts
catch the person's attention. Move a flashlight slowly
the visual field
to see if the person's eyes follow the
Bright lights can be fun and
stimulating but be careful with flashing lights
that may be
irritating and cause seizures.
paper such as
mylar is often
very attractive and multisensory
when squeezed. On the left is an
inside out potato
chip bags filled
with packing peanuts placed inside
a mesh bag for an
On the right is mylar paper.
Music is often a very
stimulation, especially since it
is so varied and holds personal
meaning associated with the
person's past. Objects that make
sounds can be fun. This
"Groan Stick" makes a funny sound when rotated and
there are many toys
on the market that make animal and
on picture of Sarah wearing musical
inside this plastic
packaging and secured with red duct
tape to make a
might enjoy bells that are strapped
around the wrist to shake, grasping or
just listening to other types of shakers.
Different sounds can be made by putting
or water into
small juice bottles. Marbles
were inserted inside this
and the ends taped closed. It
makes a great
sound when shaken.
Try to place the individual's hand
on the object while gently
a tape recording of familiar
such as children
playing, animals, cars beeping, phones
ringing, a familiar
television theme song and the voices
of loved ones.
Massagers come in all different shapes
and sizes. Some vibrate and others
just rolled along the
catalogs and health stores also sell
vibrating pillows and long
can be wrapped around the shoulders.
children and vibrating pens
to make writing
fun. However, when the
pen point is removed, you
have a wonderful
device that fits inside the hand.
are lots of
different types of
textured balls that feel
in the hand. Perhaps the
able to use
these tactile toys in an
activity such as dropping
them into a box.
A therapist might
rub pleasant textures such as satin,
velvet along the arms
furry bag feels great. There is a
dog toy inside.
A gentle push makes
the sound. Higher
individuals can use such a bag
in a game
of catch or
pass it around in a circle.
and proprioceptive stimulation really go hand in hand.
such as this sand bag provide
likes the weight of a bag filled
with sand or water on her lap. Higher
functioning individuals may be able
objects in games or
such as placing them in a
box or pushing
them off the table.
My mother (on the left) is holding a
bag filled with
water and plastic
is marketed for babies. You
can also fill an ice bag
in drug stores or even a disposable glove
the glove in
person's hand to squeeze.
Bean bag chairs provide proprioceptive and tactile stimulation
while relaxing with a book.
squishy pillows filed with microbeads
feel great on the lap
They are sold in a
shapes, sizes, colors
stimulation involves stimulating more than one sense. In
the following video my mother is stimulated by a vibrating pillow,
tactile toy to grasp, music and of course my familiar touch and voice.
older people find their sense
of taste and smell reduced and
with strong tastes to
stimulate their pallet. Thanksgiving
is often the best
day of taste and smell stimulation
and other institutions.
scents or aromas can be
provided by either holding the
below the nose or spraying
nearby. Many lotions
oils have pleasant
aromas that they
as the hands and arms
It's not an accident
elderly people with rocking chairs.
The rhythmic, back and
movement is relaxing, yet stimulating.
special rockers that can
be attached to wheelchairs. However,
a relaxing wheelchair trip through a
facility or better yet
the great outdoors
can be very stimulating and enjoyable.