SENSORY equipment like bubble tubes, fibre optics, water play, swings, trampolines and more can have a profound impact on children with various conditions ranging from Autism and ADHD to Epilepsy to rare genetic conditions.
Bubble tubes, for example, have been found to help those who have difficulty with sensory processing and struggle to tune out unnecessary sensory input. While swings and trampolines can help autistic children release feelings of anxiety and prevent the build-up of stress. Sensory stimulation can also aid in physical as well as emotional development too.
Here, we share the stories of three young boys and their families which highlight just how important sensory equipment can be!
Zac was diagnosed with Autism and global development delay just before his third birthday and is non-verbal.
Children Today helped provide a bubble tube for Zac, to help him regulate his emotions and amazingly it also helped Zac find his voice!
His mum, Chrissie Render, said:
“Because he’s non-verbal Zac can find it difficult to communicate, which frustrates him. He also struggles with changes to his routine or anything that’s unfamiliar, which can result in outbursts so his behaviour can be challenging at times.
“Zac’s older sister, Lottie, is only seven and doesn’t really understand why he acts out. So trying to keep everyone happy can be hard work.
“We first discovered the calming effect of a bubble wall on a holiday in Tenerife a few years ago. He was absolutely mesmerised by a wall of bubble tubes in a restaurant. It had such a soothing effect on him.
“When the bubble wall arrived, Zac was beside himself with excitement. He was jumping up and down!
“Although he has recently started to use some words, he’s usually non-verbal, but when we connected the equipment he instantly started shouting out the different colours as they changed – “blue, red, green!” I couldn’t believe it, as Zac normally relies on PEC cards – picture cards that show items and feelings – to communicate.
“It was so emotional seeing how much he loved it and it definitely has the desired calming effect we’d hoped for.
“Zac struggles to sleep and will often wake up multiple times through the night. Now, when he gets up he usually gazes at his bubble wall instead of watching TV or playing, and it helps to settle him.”
Henry, who has a genetic disorder called Angelman Syndrome, received a water table thanks to Children Today when he was three years old. Now, six years old, he’s still enjoying his equipment, which also helped with his mental and physical health during the lockdowns.
Angelman Syndrome affects the nervous system and can cause severe physical and intellectual disabilities. In fact, when Henry first received his water table he could only just stand up and Henry’s mum, Clare, believes the equipment has assisted him in his physical development.
Clare, from Leicester, said:
“Henry’s had a lot of good use out of it and it’s still in really good condition, it’s done him well over the past three years. It’s really helped with his mobility and balance, now he can walk independently.”
Six year old James is blind and has a rare type of epilepsy known as Lennox Gastaut Syndrome after contracting meningoencephalitis in infancy.
James’ consultant advised James’ parents that sensory stimulation is vital for James, and a bubble tube would help him to develop his hand-eye coordination to stimulate visual responses, so his family applied to Children today for support.
His mum, Rachel, said:
“James is such a loving and sociable little boy. He loves to play and explore, but there’s very little he can actually play with safely due to his condition. At school, James has access to multi-sensory rooms, but it can be very difficult to keep him entertained and stimulated at home.”
Since receiving his bubble tube he’s now able to experience one of the few forms of play he can participate in at home.
“James absolutely loves his bubble tube. He loves the sensation of the vibrations and the changing colours. I think orange seems to be his favourite, as it’s bright. The bubble tube is really helping with his development and also helps to calm him down after a bad seizure.”